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Class 5A state baseball: Noble makes return to state tournament

A solid performance last year led to a breakout season this year — a 32-4 record, a district title and plenty of other accomplishments. Now, Noble makes its return to the state tournament Thursday, opening the 5A tournament against Deer Creek at 11 a.m. at Edmond Santa Fe.
by Ryan Aber Modified: May 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm •  Published: May 8, 2013
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photo - Noble pitchers Jimmy Wood, Brady Bradshaw and Derek Underwood are in the state tournament for the Noble Bears on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 in Noble, Okla.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman  STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN
Noble pitchers Jimmy Wood, Brady Bradshaw and Derek Underwood are in the state tournament for the Noble Bears on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 in Noble, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN

— Derek Underwood has been waiting for this moment for years.

Thursday, the wait will be over as he is slated to take the mound for Noble in its first baseball state tournament appearance since 1996.

“This is huge for me and for our team,” Underwood said. “We're wanting to make a statement for Noble baseball.”

The Bears have been making statements all year.

A solid performance last year led to a breakout season this year — a 32-4 record, a district title and plenty of other accomplishments.

Now, Noble makes its return to the state tournament Thursday, opening the 5A tournament against Deer Creek at 11 a.m. at Edmond Santa Fe.

“Every at-bat I've ever had, every time I've gone out to the mound, has been building up to this,” Jimmy Wood said. “This means everything to everyone on this team. Everyone wants this. This is what we're about.”

Wood, Underwood and Brady Bradshaw have been big reasons for the Bears' resurgence.

“It starts with throwing strikes and playing great defense behind them,” Noble coach Brad Anglin said. “Those three guys have been doing their jobs all year on the mound.”

In the season's first 13 games, 12 times Noble held opponents to two runs or less. Just 10 times this year did Noble give up more than two runs.

That hot start got the Bears rolling to this point, but it started two summers ago, when Noble's summer-league team went undefeated. The bulk of that team is the group that helped get Noble to this point.

“It was about teaching them how to win,” Anglin said. “They had the talent but winning can become a habit and we needed to learn how to handle success.”

The Bears were also helped by moving to an east-side district. The Bears still had tough district opponents — they swept Pryor and McAlester in district play — but they moved away from longtime powers Carl Albert and Guthrie. The move helped Noble start fresh against new teams and gain confidence.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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