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High school baseball: Wright City's Kyle Butler says he's fighting for his players

The coach at the center of the Wright City mess is finishing up his first year at a job that he had long considered a goal — one where he could coach fall and spring baseball. He hasn't denied that his team played too many games, but he's determined to fight for his team.
by Jacob Unruh Published: May 26, 2013

Butler had big shoes to fill and he didn't exactly get off to a hot start, leading the Lumberjax to just seven wins in the fall just months after they sent Claborn out with a spring state tournament appearance.

“I was kind of having my doubts,” Wright City senior Jeff Hawkins said. “but we came out there and were ready to play ball after the spring.”

Yet, the spring is stuck on a sour note.

Wright City was originally granted an injunction by McCurtain County allowing the Lumberjax to play just before the state tournament was set to start. But on May 3, as the first three games of the first round were being played, the injunction was upheld and the OSSAA announced it would suspend the tournament pending an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Wright City has since filed its response to the appeal, but no resolution has been reached, and Rattan, Cashion, Roff and Sterling all sit and wait.

The school's administration has punished Butler, too. He is suspended for the rest of the postseason, should the Lumberjax get to play, and for the first five games in the fall.

“This is a mistake that I made and I take 100 percent of the blame for the situation that we're in,” said Butler, who also added he did complete the 2013 online baseball rules meeting this season.

“I just feel like my kids are worth fighting for and that's all I'm doing.”

Still, the Wright City players and community believe in their coach, verbally and visually offering support.

The players all wrote Butler's initials and jersey number (17) on their hats when they believed they would play in the state tournament without him on the field May 3.

 “It was a very special feeling,” Butler said. “It meant a lot to me that they thought of me like that and they wanted me on the field with them.

“That's why I took the job because I knew the type of kids that I would have.”