By Brad Heath
During the decade of the 90s, Ada High School was as good as it gets in Oklahoma.
Coming off a championship season in 1992, the Ada Cougars baseball team was the favorite in Class 3A but defending a state title is never easy. Head coach Bryan Harwell heard the rumblings in town about this team not being as good as last year’s team. Coach Harwell used that to help fuel the Cougars
Ada was ranked No. 2 coming into the tournament, but rankings had no impact on how teams would perform with the state title on the line. The No. 4 ranked Weatherford Eagles would fight their way to the finals and face the defending champs at Skelton Field at Shawnee High School. The same school the Cougars faced in ’92, defeating the Eagles, 10-6.
Pitcher Clint Stewart (10-2) was on the bump for the Cougars, but the offense would give him some help, while the Eagles defense would commit three crucial errors in the game that helped propel the Cougars to their second straight baseball title and their third in school history at that time.
“We had ups and downs that whole season. Some bad games and some great ones. But I think the special part about that team was how long we had all been playing together and winning,” said Stewart.
Stewart only allowed six base runners, struck out six batters and recorded 11 fly-ball outs in seven innings pitched. His performance stifled an Eagles offense that scored 33 runs with 30 hits in the first two games of the state tournament.
Weatherford pitcher Travis Shore retired the first eight batters for Ada until Erin Wilfong walked on four pitches and Chris Stevenson took his base on a two-count error. Stewart would smash a two-run double before Justin Busche scored a run with a single. Corey Coggburn crossed the plate on an error making the score, 4-0. Later in the sixth inning, Wilfong would single, scoring two runs.
The Cougars would only give up two runs on their way to winning their second title in a row, 6-2. Coggburn said Weatherford was beat before the game ever started.
“The memory that sticks out the most is that we had them beat before the game even started. We had a very confident way of carrying ourselves and we would usually display that during pre-game. We could tell they were intimidated and nervous about the game. I spoke to their catcher years after that game, and he said they were beat before they even took the field,” said Coggburn.
Starting pitcher Clint Stewart said the ’93 team was exactly that; a team with each player embracing their role.
“It just seemed like every time we needed someone to step up and make a big play or move a runner or drive someone in, we did. A championship baseball team is just that; a team made up of a group of players where each individual embraces his role, works on perfecting that role, and takes care first and foremost of the basics,” said Stewart.
Stewart and Coggburn offered some advice to the 2023 Ada Cougars as they prepare for the upcoming season.
“Find your team’s identity, exploit your strengths and work constantly to offset your weaknesses,” said Stewart.
“My advice for the 2023 team would be to do the work. Meaning, put in the work at practice. Get there early and stay late. Take pride in your work ethic and make it a personal goal to outwork everyone else on the team. I believe that one of the main reasons our teams were so successful was because we knew without a doubt that we had worked harder than any team we would play. Our coach, Bryan Harwell instilled that mindset in us, and his practices demanded it. We were all better players and people because of his influence,” said Coggburn.
It’s a Celebration!
Other teams celebrating championship anniversaries in 2023
Ada Football – (1993) 30 years
Ada Boys Golf – (1973) 50 years, (2013) 10 years
Ada Boys Tennis – (1963) 60 years, (1983) 40 years, (2013) 10 years