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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oran, Concordia to square off in semifinal

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

(Photo)
Oran lefty Trey Graviett is expected to get the start in Wednesday's Class 1 semifinal matchup against Concordia
(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
ORAN - The Oran Eagles baseball team are on their way to Columbia.

As a matter of fact, they're already there.

"We are going up a day early just let the guys get used to the place and to get a little practice in up there," said Oran head coach Mitch Wood. "We have been having good practices all week. We just want to get up to a high school field with a grass infield, maybe Hickman, to get a little work in."

The Class 1 top-ranked Eagles (21-2) are scheduled to play Concordia (17-2) in the semifinals tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. at Mizzou.

The backbone for the Eagles this season has been their stellar defense and according to Wood, they will be calling upon that defense again to get the win.

"Trey (Graviett) will most likely be on the mound for us for the first game," said Wood. "We feel like we have our best defense behind us when he is on the mound."

Graviett (8-1) is the powerful southpaw that turned in a masterful start against North Pemiscot (13-8) in the sectionals and came in relief of Tyler Nelson and shut the door on Ellington in the quarterfinals.

With the expanded collegiate field, Oran's Eagles will also have to change their offensive mind-set for this contest.

"We have been working on hitting a lot of line drives in practice, but a lot of the shots that these guys have been hitting would be in the gaps. These kids know that they are not really going to be able to swing for the fences. They know how to adjust," said Wood.

One of the possible problems for this team this season, which appears not to have happened, is for them to peak too early.

"I really thought that in the middle of the year that we were playing as well as we possibly could," said Wood.

"I think that we have really gotten on track here at the end of the season as well. I think the Ellington game was the best we've pitched all season and our defense was really good then as well."

Another key point that Wood talked about was the Eagles' ability to work on the small things well.

"The way I teach, we believe that all nine players have something to do on every play. Our guys really back each other up well. I teach our guys to play this game on instincts and gut feelings. These guys know how to play the game and I am proud to just be a part of these past two years," said Wood.

"Take for instance that run-down in our last game. No one really noticed it, because it went smoothly, but our guys executed that really well. These guys learned the fundamentals all the way back in little league and they have become a very good ball team. I'm just excited to be able to coach them."

Coach Wood also spoke about getting back to the Final Four for the second year in a row.

"We know that there are a lot of teams that are very good that are not going this season," said Wood.

"It does take a little luck to get here, but I am really excited for the team and for the town for us to be able to go for the second year in a row."

If the Eagles win tomorrow they will play at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday for the Class 1 championship.

If Oran drops their game tomorrow, they will play at 5:00 p.m. Thursday for third place.