A strong season with a frustrating finale has come to an end for Southeastern Savage Storm baseball.
The Storm finished in seventh place in the Division II South Central Region rankings, putting them on the outside of the six top teams selected for the regional tournament this week in Missouri. Southern Arkansas University will represent the Great American Conference at the event.
“We were really disappointed (in our finish),” said Southeastern baseball Coach Mike Metheny. “ I felt like we had a really good year. But this was not a good finish for us. If you don’t win everything, you’re going to be disappointed.”
It was a roller-coaster year for the Storm, who started out 4-0, fell to the middle of the pack early, then proceeded to take every GAC series until the season finale at East Central. They finished 34-17 on the year and Southeastern is the top-ranked Division II team in Oklahoma.
Their 16-8 mark in conference play put them one game off pace of eventual champion Southern Arkansas. The Storm then split their conference tournament games, putting them into a precarious position as they fought back to within one game of the championship.
For perspective, Southeastern finished with a better record than OU(33-19) and OSU (32-19), however both of those Division I schools still have regular season games to play. The big guys may end up with more wins, but the Savage Storm will have fewer losses.
All of this has to do with the excellent crop of talent which helped the Storm to their highest winning percentage in a decade. Three players earned all-conference honors: Outfielder Blake Gentry, pitchers Brandon Marris and Cameron Mann. Second team selections from Southeastern included Brice Williams, Peter Bako and Cameron Green.
Those players could be up for more hardware as all-region and All-American selections are forthcoming.
“Blake Gentry was picked as our most valuable player. He’s a three year player for us, and an outstanding leader,” Metheny said. “ What he did for the nucleus of our ball club shows his overall impact.”
Gentry hit .359 with 69 hits – both team bests. Brad Shankle had a team-high 35 runs batted in, as well as eight home runs to lead the way. On the mound, Marris finished 11-4 with a 2.51 earned run average and 90 strikeouts. Mann finished 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA, as well as 11 of the team’s 13 total saves. Williams was 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA.
Next spring, Savage Storm baseball will start its second year in the Great American Conference with a six-year streak of finishing above .500. The team will also have an almost entirely new crop of faces: Out of a 24-man roster, 14 are graduating seniors.
“We have a heavy loss with our ball club,” Metheny said. “It will be a full summer recruiting replacements for these guys.”