Photos: Bison Sports Awards

All Photos by Jacob Factor/News Editor

The Looks

The Awards

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All 2019 Bison Sports Awards winners:
Outstanding Senior Athletes
Cagney Roberson, Football
McKae Mitchell, Women’s Track & Field

Breakout Athletes of the Year
Harrison Stoddart, Men’s Basketball
Leah Molter, Women’s Track & Field

Newcomers of the Year
Antonio Wade, Men’s Basketball
Konner Shields, Cheer/STUNT

Individual Performances of the Year
Jake Gozzo, Baseball
Victoria Fonville, Women’s Swimming

Heart of a Bison Awards
Brantly Thompson, Men’s Basketball
Jennifer Goethe (Women’s Soccer)

Scholar Athlete Awards
Jonathan Stewart, Men’s Swimming
Emily Sechrist, Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country

The #DavCup Award

Made a Difference Award
Women’s Soccer

Team Academic Award
Women’s Golf

Faculty Mentor Award
Dr. Linda McElroy

Advocate for Athletics Award
Joy Carl

Bison Baseball in slump after 20th victory

By Jared A’Lattore, Sports Editor

After earning a key 20th victory, the Bison baseball squad has suffered six straight losses including a high scoring affair against Oklahoma Christian.

Both teams went at it right from the get-go in Shawnee. Oklahoma Chris-tian took a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.

Jake Gozzo was the first to get his team on the board on an RBI single.

In the second inning, the Bison would continue hitting well with a Joey Pledger three-run homer. They took a 4-2 lead with this homer.

In the next inning, it was Kaimana Bartolome to add to the lead with a solo shot. The Eagles would fight back later on.

In the fourth inning, the Eagles would take a lead off a single and a three-run homer. The Bison would earn runs in the bottom half of the fourth.

After the Bison would load the bases and eventually tie the game, Pledger hit a grand slam to take an 11-7 lead. This was the second home run for Pledger in the contest.

In the fifth inning, the Eagles would score off a two-run homer. The score would be cut to 11-9 but not for long.

In the bottom half of the fifth, P.J. Harris scored off a solo homer. Kaden Betsch would contribute with an RBI single. Betsch also took advantage off a wild pitch and scored. The score was 16-9 and the Bison were rolling.

The Eagles would come storming back with three runs scored in the inning. The Eagles would score more runs off triples and errors from the Bison.

With efforts to stop the mad come-back, the Bison scored off another home run by Joey Pledger.

In the eighth inning, the Eagle come-back would continue with an RBI double and more errors from the Bison. The game was tied at 17 in the eighth inning.

In the ninth, the Eagles would close it out with RBI singles and triples to eventually win the contest. The Bison came up short in the bottom half. The Eagles won the game, 21-17.

Despite the loss, Jake Gozzo finished with two of four in that game. Joey Pledger went for three home runs and went three of five on his at-bats. Eric Carlson had his thoughts on the slump for the Bison so far.

“We just haven’t been taking care of the little things the last four games,” Carlson said. “And we haven’t put all aspects of the game together in them, pitching, defense, and hitting.”

The scoring was there, but the defense was not the same by allowing the Eagles with opportunities.

“We hit well, we just didn’t hold them down we scored, Carlson said. “We gave them too many free bases and gave them too many opportunities to come back into the game.”

If the offense can execute as well as before but do their job on the other side of the ball, the Bison can see more going their way to come.

“We need to take care of the baseball and eliminate free bases this upcoming series, if we can do that and have our bats stay hot, then we will be in good position to win,” Carlson said.

The Bison went to SWOSU over the weekend for doubleheader action.

SWOSU came out the gates with scoring six unanswered runs to open up the game.

The score was 6-0 by the sixth inning and the Bison were looking for an answer.

In the seventh, Carlson answered with a two-run homer. Pledger connected on a double to score in a run. SWOSU scored two runs in the bottom seventh after an error. The Bison fell short of that game, 8-5.

In the second game, Carlson hit a three-run homer in the first inning of the contest.

In the third inning, SWOSU took the lead 5-4 off a single.

In the fourth, Pledger connected on a two-run homer to take a 6-5 lead. In the bottom half of the fourth, SWOSU scored off hits and an error. They won the second game, 9-6.

The Bison have fallen six straight contests and will play three games against ECU at Bison Field in Ford Park this weekend.

Baseball takes ECU, goes against Southern

By Jared A’Lattore, Sports Editor

The Bison baseball team took a big win against East Central University, while taking two losses and another win against Southeastern Oklahoma State. 

The Bison won against ECU two weeks ago on their home field, 13-2. There were five pitchers for the Bison combining seven strikeouts. They only gave up one hit to the ECU Tigers. P.J. Harris finished with a double, and Eric Carlson finished with two doubles. Brett Bloomfield finished was hot on the day, finishing with four at-bats and four hits. Bloomfield went for a triple in one of his hits and was not slowing down all game long.

Jake Gozzo hit a home run giving major momentum to the Bison. Pitcher Hudson Pearson picked up the win as a reliever, and the Bison won the game by a whooping 11 runs.  

During one of their road games against Southeastern, the Bison were staying in the game throughout much of the contest, even when they were down 2-0. Kiamana Bartolome hit a solo home run to cut the lead down to 2-1. Later in the game, Southeastern connected on a home run of their own and another score after that. Southeastern won that game, 5-1.  

During the first game of their doubleheader against Southeastern, the Bison were clicking on all cylinders just like they did a few days back. They won the game with multiple batters contributing. Bloomfield, Ramon Enriquez, Garrett McKee, Brock Carter, and Joey Pledger all hit for doubles in the game.

Harris, Enriquez and McKee all hit for home runs in the game. This was a rout for the Bison, 11-3. Thomas Shroder picked up the win. It was Shroder’s first win of the year.  

The second game of the doubleheader called for payback from Southeastern. Southeastern took a 9-0 lead by the fourth inning. 

Gozzo continued to show his worth with a home run shot in the game, but the Bison fell way short this time. Southeastern picked up an 11-3 win over the Bison.  

Shroder believes that the team has its strengths such as the pitching and the veteran leadership to show that the elite is rising again in 2019.  

“One [strength] being the 12 seniors, including myself, that we have on the roster who have all played together and know what it takes to win a conference tournament and play past that,” Shroder said. “Two, I think we have a deep pitching staff which is something that not having hurt us last year, as well as another very talented lineup.” 

With the season still young, the team is hoping to find its strength and use it to beat teams across the conference and so forth.  

I’m not too sure we have any glaring weaknesses, I think you’ll start to see several guys catch stride as the season goes along and we’ll continue to play knowing we’re the best team in the GAC,” Shroder said.  

Having the strength of not hitting balls, but the mental capacity in which they do it in is very important.  

“We know we’re talented enough as a team to beat anyone in this league at any given time and so it all comes down to having confidence in the work we’ve all put in and our approach when we get the ball/bat in our hands,” Shroder said.  

The team is all about taking one at a time to get back to where they were last year.  

“To get back to an NCAA Regional, we have to go take care of business this weekend at NWOSU and then continue to take the season one game at a time,” Shroder said. 

While the Bison would have loved to have a better start going into 2019, they understand that it is a process to be where they want to be like last season.  

There’s a lot of upside with this group and the coaching staff looks forward to the strides they’ll make throughout the season and the finished product we’ll end up with in May,” Assistant Coach Christopher Cox said. 

The Bison are looking forward to getting better whether it is in practice or games.  

“I think one thing that sticks out especially with the slow start we’ve gotten off to is their resilience,” Cox said. “They come to work every day hungry, looking to get this thing going in the right direction.” 

Cox notices how important the veteran leadership is to the squad. They will look to lead the team to another birth in the Division II postseason.   

“They understand the culture that’s been built here and understand its importance in the winning tradition the program has, Cox said. “Couldn’t be more pleased with this group of guys in how they represent the university, the coaching staff, and themselves.” 


Student preacher excited for opportunity

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

thomas 2
Courtesy Photo/The Baptist Messenger Thomas Shroder to preach in chapel March 6 as student preacher

For Thomas Shroder, the comparison between the preaching pulpit and the pitching mound is an apt one.  

Pastoral Ministries and Apologetics major here at OBU – as well as a pitcher on the baseball team – he has been caught in a balancing act between his call to ministry and his competitive fire ever since stepping foot on Bison Hill. 

This March, that balancing act is being rewarded, as Shroder has been selected by the theology department to represent them as a student preacher in chapel on March 6. 

The story of Shroder’s call to the ministry is a long one. A natural athlete in California growing up, he took to baseball immediately, and it became the driving force in his life.  

“Baseball was all I wanted to do,” he said. “And so much of my identity, growing up, got wrapped up in that.”  

It was baseball that paved the way for Shroder’s college journey, as he began playing at a junior college in his home state of Arizona.

After transferring to the University of Texas at Arlington – where his major was Economics and ministry was far from his mind – Shroder experienced his first big sports injury, prompting him to consider for the first time what a life without baseball would look like.  

“I really felt God saying, ‘If I took away baseball from you, you’d have nothing.’” Shroder said. “It was my whole identity, and I knew it was going to let me down.”  

Having grown up as the son of a youth minister and a worship leader, Shroder had been around the teachings of Christianity his whole life, but had never really embraced the lifestyle modeled to him by his parents.  

“I just sort of adopted their faith,” he said. “That made itself very clear when I got to high school and junior college. Church was just something I did on Sundays, and I ran to the world.” 

Forced to take time off from baseball while recovering from his injury at UTA, Shroder began to take his relationship with the Lord seriously, and he began to feel a calling on his life that went far beyond baseball and economics.  

Pursuing this calling with the spiritual mentors in his life, Shroder became convinced that God was seriously commanding him to a life in ministry, and when God opened the doors for him to transfer to OBU, Shroder jumped at the chance, abandoning economics for the theology department and beginning work as a supply preacher in his hometown and some of the areas surrounding Shawnee.  

These opportunities to preach on Sundays have allowed Shroder the chance to hone his abilities, as well as to test the calling on his life and confirm it. Once unsure that he wanted to serve officially at a church, Shroder now feels confident in that direction.  

“I’m sure that’s where everything is headed at this point,” he said. “Over the last year I’ve seen… certain gifts and talents that the Lord has given me really manifest themselves behind the pulpit in a way that it’s just really solidified that calling for me.” 

As to being chosen as the student preacher for 2019, Shroder confesses that he didn’t expect the honor. 

“I was pretty surprised,” he said. “It’s an honor…it’s really cool to be affirmed in that way from your mentors, your professors.”  

For Heath Thomas, the Dean of Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, it was the dedication Shroder displays that made him a natural choice.  

Thomas exhibits a deep commitment to Jesus, a clear call to ministry, and he faithfully labors to be the person that God has called him to be,” Dean Thomas said. “All of the women and men in Hobbs College are extraordinary in their call and commitment to Jesus; we are delighted that Thomas will represent them as he proclaims the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ from God’s Word.” 

Shroder compares his nerves at preaching in chapel – which will undoubtedly be the biggest crowd he’s stood in front of – to those he feels before taking the mound.  

“I’m excited,” he said. “I think it’ll be just like on the mound. It’ll be a deep breath, and then let’s get after it.”  

That excitement, and the nerves that accompany it, is tempered by the fact that Shroder knows the results won’t be up to him.  

“It’s not even necessarily me,” he said I’m just excited for what the Lord’s going to do.” 

Shroder keeps his goals for the chapel message simple – and they’re the same goals that he has every time he preaches.  

“I want to preach the word clearly and concisely so that the Spirit is free to move as he wills,” he said.  

He also knows that preaching is only half of the battle. The other half comes from the example he sets in life, especially in the context of baseball and as he prepares to be a leader in a congregation.  

The challenge is always just living authentically,” Shroder said. “It’s a challenge to portray and live out Christianity as a viable option in your life.”  

Ephesians 1:15-23 is the text that Shroder plans on preaching from, and the density of those verses is a challenge that he relishes.  

“[It’s] a lot,” he said. “It’s going to be a task to pull it off in 25 or 30 minutes.”  

After March 6 – and after graduation – Shroder has immediate plans, but his long-term future is up in the air. The one thing he knows is what he wants to be doing.  

“I just want to feed the flock,” he said. “I want to be of service to the church in whatever capacity… being a pastor is a full-time job. It’s a lifestyle.”  

Shroder will portray that lifestyle for the rest of his days, and on March 6 he will portray it in front of the entire university.  

Bison baseball back after success in 2018

Jared A’Latorre,

The Bison baseball team is back in 2019 after a successful season ending against the University of Central Oklahoma in the regionals back in 2018.  

On a chilly Friday evening to begin the season, the Bison faced off against Missouri Western where they didn’t seem to miss a beat from 2018. In the first inning, junior Ramon Enriquez attempted to hit the ball but fouled out. This gave freshman center fielder Joey Pledger a chance to score and to give the Bison a one-run lead. Later in the first, senior first baseman PJ Harris earned an RBI on a base hit, allowing senior shortstop Brett Bloomfield to score and make it a two-run Bison lead.  

In the bottom second inning, Bloomfield grounded out but helped bring junior Eric Carlson to home and the Bison led by three.  The next inning, Missouri Southern found their first run of the game of a fly out and got on the board.  

Both teams were quiet until the seventh inning. Enriquez was able to come up big again on an RBI single. Harris contributed on an RBI double, and Carlson was able to allow senior Austin Cooper and Enriquez to score on an out. 

Missouri Western scored a couple more runs in the eighth inning. They attempted for a last gasp of hope in the ninth inning, but the Bison held on to win by a score of 7-3. Junior Jake Lipetzky got the win with one run allowed. Lipetzky pitched for five innings.  

The next day the Bison took on a doubleheader rematch with Missouri Western and took the first of the second game. 

In the bottom first inning, the Bison got on the board early with a two-run homer from senior right fielder Jake Gozzo. Later in the game, Missouri Western earned hits later on the game and took a 3-2 lead by the fourth inning. The lead started to strengthen by the gap by the fifth inning with a solo home run.  

In the bottom sixth inning, Harris hit a two-run homer to tie the game. In the top seventh inning, there was a double from Missouri Western and then a home run. They took a three-run lead. In the bottom seventh inning, the Bison went on a tear. Gozzo tripled and tied the game, 7-7. Enriquez earned an RBI double and Gozzo scored. Chase Kerr earned an RBI single. Garrett McKee scored off a two-run homer.  

In the eighth inning, Gozzo put the icing on the cake and doubled and earned and RBI bringing in two. The Bison won the game, 13-7.  

In their second game of the doubleheader, Missouri Western scored off a two-run homer. In the fifth inning, the errors by the Bison defense allowed their opponents to score and the score was 4-0. In the fifth inning, the Bison scored off walks on two occasions, but it was not enough to win the game. Missouri Southern won the second game, 4-2.  

The Bison went on a tournament in North Texas and played in a doubleheader on last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In the first of two, they faced Oklahoma Christian University. Oklahoma Christian got off to a fast start in the first inning taking a 3-0 lead. By the second inning, they took a 6-0 lead and by the third inning, it was an 8-0 lead.  

In the fourth inning, the Bison started to get going with an RBI single from Gozzo. Enriquez connected on an RBI double. In the fifth inning, the Bison scored off a groundout. The Bison tried to get back in the game after a three-run homer from Gozzo, but they fell short, 10-7.  

The Bison lost both of their doubleheader games before taking their last game in Texas by a score of 11-1 against East Central University.  

The Bison stand with a 3-4 record and will face Southeastern Oklahoma State coming this Friday and Saturday. They will defend home plate against the University of Central Oklahoma Monday, February 11.   


Baseball team looks past NCCAA title towards NCAA future

By Jared A’Latorre, Contributing Writer   (Courtesy Photo/Bison Athletics)

With the season nearly in full swing, Oklahoma Baptist University’s baseball team is looking to continue their success and defend their NCCAA World Series title.

The baseball team is coming off back-to-back NCCAA (National Christian Athletic Association) championships and are looking to step up and add a NCAA title to their collection.

Seniors Josh Timms, Brett Burghammer, Juan Gonzalez, and Zane Gelphman are top hitters who Coach Bobby Cox believes that their team can succeed again this season.

“We have a real good core coming back. Returning those four core guys were extremely important to us,” Cox said.

This will be the first year that the Bison will be eligible joining the postseason for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division II, and will no longer compete in the NCCAA tournament. Cox thinks that the past two seasons have brought the best of out his players.

“That was a really good time for us being able to win back-to-back national championships. It was a very enjoyable run both times,” Cox said.

Even though the change from NCCAA to NCAA is a big one this year, Cox still believes that the expectations for his players this year are just like any other.

“Our goals for this year are pretty much [the same] as they are every year; to win conference, make [the] postseason, and hopefully play on a national level,” Cox said.

Cox believes that he knows what to expect to see out on the field during the regular season, but not as much as on the biggest stage.

“This being our first year [in the NCAA], we’re still trying to feel our way of what to expect. I think we know what to expect on the conference level, but on the national level we’ve never been there before, so it’s kind of an unknown deal,” Cox said.

Cox still wants his players to continue play at the same level this season alike with the past two seasons.“ The last two years we finished third in the conference and we hope to continue to play at that level and get into the conference tournament and just see where it takes us. It’s definitely part of the goals and mindset of the group,” Cox said.

Gelphman is on the same page with Cox about what to expect for the upcoming season. “The great thing about this team is that we are all on board with our team goals and expectations. Every game we play [there] is the expectation of winning, no matter the opponent, and we work everyday with the hopes that all of our efforts will lead to a national championship,” Gelphman said.

Gelphman says he believes that the team chemistry is unlike any other. He thinks this special group of players had started connecting even before the season.

“The minute we all got here and started practicing, we all knew that this team was different. By the start of the season, we had probably grown closer as a team than most teams do in a full season.”

Gelphman, like his coach, believes that the challenge of competing for a World Series will be tougher now than ever before, but the team’s chemistry will be key to another possible World Series title.

On the other hand, while injuries have set back the baseball team on the pitching side, the team is looking to fight through that and execute as much as possible on offense and on coaching.

“One thing we’ve had to overcome as of late is four of our pitchers being sidelined with injury, leaving only seven active pitchers. Even though it will be a grind, we all have faith in our pitching staff to pull through,” Gelphman said.

Gelphman believes that if there ever was a team to compete to win an NCAA championship in their first year, it would be his team.

“I don’t think any of us have ever been on a team like this, where every single person is pulling for each other towards one common goal. It’s hard to all be on the same page with so many guys from so many different backgrounds, but out team has something special and we’re definitely not going to I take it for granted,” Gelphman said.

The baseball team will be in action this weekend at home with games against GAC rival Ouachita Baptist on Friday and Saturday. The Bison will be home again on Tuesday versus the River Hawks of Northeastern State.