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Bat speed turns Carl Albert's Gavin LaValley into Player of the Year and a Cincinnati Reds draft pick

by Jacob Unruh Published: June 14, 2014

— Joe LaValley hung a whiffle ball from the ceiling of his Wilburton home and watched as a 2-year-old Gavin LaValley swing a baseball bat.

And he swung it well.

Nearly a year later, Joe LaValley put a whiffle ball on a tee in the house hoping to show his brother how well Gavin could swing a bat. A sharp line drive into the face of his sister-in-law was proof enough.

A star hitter was starting to take shape.

“Bottom line, he could just swing the bat fast,” Joe LaValley said. “It just smacked her right on the cheek. It was loud.”

Gavin LaValley certainly blossomed from there, becoming the state’s best hitter during his four-year high school career, which culminated with a third straight state championship at Carl Albert, an offensive output that included 19 home runs and 75 RBIs, and the Cincinnati Reds drafting him in the fourth round during last week’s MLB draft.

For his efforts, he is The Oklahoman’s All-State and Big All-City Baseball Player of the Year.

“I tried to get better every year and every day,” LaValley said. “God blessed me with a great gift and I don’t want to waste it, so I just try to get better every day and hopefully get to the big leagues and stay in the big leagues, not just get there.”

LaValley certainly has the makeup to make the big leagues, largely due to his impressive bat speed.

“It’s unbelievable,” Carl Albert coach Wayne Dozier said. “A lot of those area guys or even the cross checkers that come in say they’ve only seen four or five guys with bat speed like that in their entire career. Some of the names they’ve mentioned have been extraordinary players in the major league level.”

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by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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