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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oran's Graviett kept everybody guessing

Sunday, June 22, 2003

(Photo)
Trey Graviett went 8-1 thisyear with a 1.52 ERA while batting .475 for Oran.
ORAN -- Smiling and easygoing, Trey Graviett is of the unpredictable sort.

He'll have teammates scratching their heads with a tangent thought in midconversation.

He bats right-handed and uses his right hand to eat and write.

But just when it's apparent he's right-handed, he throws a curve -- or possibly a slider or fastball -- left-handed. Sporting a productive bat from the right side, Graviett also was one of the top pitchers in the area from the left side. He went 8-1 his senior season with a 1.52 ERA while batting a team-leading .475 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs. But he's not totally unpredictable.

Put him in a big game and there's a good chance he's going to shine. He has a knack for saving his big game for the big game.

One of seven talented seniors in the starting lineup, he played a major role in Oran's return to the Class 1 final four and spot in the state championship game.

"He doesn't seem like he feels pressure," teammate Tyler Cookson said. "He can do something pretty serious, and he's not too stressed about it. Yet he's still able to focus and get the job done."

In his own unpredictable style to boot.

Like after making outs on his first two at-bats at the final four, he borrowed -- or salvaged -- the battered bat of teammate Trevor Irwin.

"He was supposed to take it in cause it had a bunch of dents in it," Graviett said.

Graviett put a few more dings in the bat before sending it back to the factory, going 6-for-6 over his final at-bats. "In big games he really doesn't think about it a whole lot," shortstop Ryne Wood said. "He's not like, 'Oh my God, this is a big game.'"

Added catcher Nathan Seyer, "He concentrates more on whether his shoelaces are tied right or his arm is stretched right rather than what type of game it is."

Coach Mitch Wood has a simple explanation for the senior's offbeat approach: "He's a left-hander."

"He's kind of crazy -- being left-handed adds something to it," Cookson said. "Lefties are a little different, but I guess that's what makes Trey Trey. Personalitywise, he's like all of us. He's always cutting up. He's not serious except for when he needs to be."

Graviett laughs when discussing how others view the working of his mind, which handles scholastic challenges quite well. He scored a 26 on the ACT and assembled a 10.5 GPA on an 11-point scale.

"I don't think I'm crazy," he said. "I think I have good reasons for everything out there."

Oran's big games started with the onset of districts, and Graviett's big games coincided.

"He stepped up," Mitch Wood said. "The last three weeks he really hit the baseball well."

His arm wasn't bad either.

In the district championship game against Bell City, Graviett threw a one-hitter. Oran needed the sterling performance to avoid an upset with a 3-1 victory, scoring two runs in the top of the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie.

In the sectional round, the senior hurled three-hit ball for six innings in Oran's 3-2 victory over North Pemiscot. Graviett, who got a no-decision, ended the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

He then accounted for the first two runs of Oran's 12-3 win over Ellington with a first-inning home run in the quarterfinals.

His postseason, along with the Eagles, would only get better. "Trey plays better in big games than in any other games," Seyer said. "Big-time players step it up in big-time games. If he has a bad game, it'll be in a game that doesn't really matter."

In two games at Columbia, he demonstrated what a two-handed, two-dimensional threat he was to both Concordia in the semifinals and Sparta in the championship. In the two games combined, Graviett pitched 10 innings, picked up a victory, struck out 11 batters, went 6-for-8, hit a home run and a triple, and drove in three runs.

A guy who sometimes has problems staying focused was locked in like a guided missile.

"I usually let things happen," Graviett said. "When I got to state, the first game I was focused, but not as much as the championship game. I just tried to stay in a zone. I was trying to stay mad -- not at anybody, but just trying to stay focused and take it all out on them. I didn't like being in that kind of mood, though, but it helped. It kept me pumped up."

Cookson noticed a difference in the Eagles' self-imposed "mad man."

"That's probably the most serious -- especially about baseball -- I've seen him," Cookson said. "You could see with his stats. Nobody could really touch him when he was throwing. Whenever you challenge him is when he really comes through." In the semifinal round, where the Eagles stumbled a year earlier, Graviett pitched a complete game while sparking the team with his bat. With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Graviett belted a 350-foot home run to left field that not only cleared the wall of Missouri's spacious Taylor Stadium but nearly left the park.

It was quite a shot for anybody, but especially for a guy in the 5-foot-11, 170-pound range. He later added a two-run triple in a four-run seventh as Oran won 7-3.

A day later in the championship game, the Eagles once again called upon his arm and bat.

After Sparta pushed across four runs off two Oran pitchers in the third inning without one of the six batters retired, the Eagles turned to Graviett. Entering with runners on first and second, Graviett quickly restored order with a strikeout and a double play.

He exited the mound only to return twice more to extinguish Sparta threats. He pitched a strategic 2 1/3 innings, striking out four batters. He finished the season with 91 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

"I relied on his pitching more than anything," Mitch Wood said. "We hit .400 as a team. He hit the ball, don't get me wrong, but at the same time I knew we were going to hit and score runs. In baseball you have to have good pitching to last and have a good season. I really thought a lot of his pitching."

Graviett also went 4-for-4 in the game, which the Eagles lost 5-2 despite outhitting the state champs 11-3. "It still hurts," Graviett said. "We didn't play that bad. It just didn't go our way."

But Graviett and the Eagles left a big imprint on the season by going 22-3.

"Winning 20 games during the season was great," Cookson said. "But from districts on is when it counts, and that's when you find out your true people who can sit down and get focused."