MIDWEST CITY — Carl Albert coach Wayne Dozier remembers the first time he saw Gavin LaValley and Cameron Warren together on the baseball field.
They were eighth graders playing on the Titans’ field one evening. And they made quite the impression.
“We stayed around and watched because our junior high coaches were telling us how good they were going to be and how good they were,” Dozier said. “It didn’t take long to realize that they were special.”
LaValley and Warren, who have both signed with Oklahoma, have helped pave the way for the Titans’ recent run of success with two straight Class 5A championships.
Now, the two are paramount to Carl Albert’s success this season as the Titans search for a third straight title.
“We’re playing pretty relaxed right now,” LaValley said. “We always have that target on our back, but we’ve just got to play through it, play as a team and don’t worry about that.”
LaValley, who was recently named to USA Today’s All-USA Preseason Baseball Team, is possibly the state’s most feared hitter. Last season, the corner infielder led the country with 75 RBIs in 128 at-bats, while also hitting .477 with 20 home runs.
Those are the kind of numbers that will likely draw a Major League Baseball team to select LaValley in June’s First-Year Player Draft. However, he said he remains focused on this spring.
But it’s hard to ignore LaValley’s ability at the plate.
“It’s fun watching him hit home runs,” Warren said. “He hits them far.”
Warren, though, is nearly as impressive on the field. Last season, he hit .463 with eight homers and 40 RBIs. He was also 7-3 with a 3.26 ERA and 46 strikeouts.
He hasn’t been on the field this season since suffering an injury to the thumb on his glove hand in the state basketball tournament, but his return is vital to the Titans.
“Every piece is important, but those guys are really important,” Dozier said.
The Titans not only feature LaValley and Warren, but senior speedster Stevie Thompson and junior catcher Corey Zangari, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma State.
It’s a loaded lineup that has Carl Albert ranked No. 25 in the country and the early favorite to win Class 5A yet again.
“A lot of teams are excited when they beat us or (are) playing us,” Warren said. “They throw their best, and we know we’re going to be more talented than most teams we play, so we’ve got to show up every day and play as hard as we can, come out in the first inning and get after it.”
And having talented players like Warren and LaValley only help accomplish that.
Warren said he remembers that eighth-grade game, admitting there was pressure to perform and show they can follow in the footsteps of some talented Titans players.
So far, so good for the duo.
“That’s priceless to have guys like that,” Dozier said.