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High school baseball: Asher's tradition continues with 85th appearance in state tournament

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Asher celebrates their win during the Class B fall baseball state championship game between Asher and Leedey at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark,  Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Asher celebrates their win during the Class B fall baseball state championship game between Asher and Leedey at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

ASHER — Ten years ago, Shane Coker noticed the biggest crowd he had ever seen at an Asher game.

Fans from all over the community flocked to see the baseball team open the state tournament. They had not seen a state championship since 1998. They were hungry for the glory days.

“It became so second place to be in the state tournament,” Coker said. “You drew more attention if you didn’t win a state title.

“But this was an environment at Asher baseball that I had never seen.”

As Asher prepares to open the Class B baseball state tournament Thursday at Shawnee High School, the program reaches a milestone in its illustrious history. It’ll be the school’s 85th appearance — between fall and spring — in the state tournament.

Asher will be going for a 46th baseball title, too, when it opens at 1:30 p.m. against Fort Cobb-Broxton.

The program last raised a championship trophy in the fall of 2013. The last spring title came in 1995. But that doesn’t mean the tradition has been lost.

“I feel like we’re getting closer every day,” said junior Trevor Martin, an Oklahoma State commitment.

Coker grew up in the glory days.

He played in eight championship games — winning each one — in the late 80s for Asher. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He returned to Asher 13 years ago and had a run of five straight championship game berths.

When he returned, he immediately kept the tradition in focus. He hired assistants from his former Asher teammates or those who played before him, and has since hired one who played on his 2013 championship team. He talked constantly about the tradition, which included 68 straight state tournament appearances from the fall of 1965 until the spring of 1999 under legendary coach Murl Bowen.

“Sometimes I wonder if I talk about it too much,” Coker said. “I try to talk about it without putting it in the terms of, ‘This is the way we did it.’ Times have changed so much.

“I try to teach them the mindset we had.”

Back then, Asher believed no opponent could win. That confidence is starting to return.

“Everywhere you go everyone knows who you are,” Martin said. “Everyone knows the tradition you’re coming from.

“Growing up through Asher my whole life, baseball’s been really respected. To be on the 85th state tournament team is unreal.”

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... Read more ›

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