By Jeff Harrison
A local youth baseball team is ready for the national stage.
The Oklahoma Legends will compete against the top 10-and-under baseball teams in the country at the USSSA Baseball Elite World Series in Orlando, Florida. The national tournament starts Saturday, July 22 and continues through July 30.
The team primarily consists of boys from eastern Oklahoma County. Declan Murphy and AJ Henke-Ford both from Midwest City, and Nathion Deleplank, Cole Olguin, Riley Webb and Cade Green are all from Choctaw. Other players from the metro include: Brayson Carter, Cale Parr, Austin Gibson and Chance Baker.
“A lot of the boys have been playing together for the last four or five years,” said Cory Green, who is one of the dads that coach the team.
Green said the Oklahoma Legends have been successful with local players and fathers, like himself, helping coach. Rhett Murphy and Bobby Olguin also coach. Some of the top teams in the country feature players from different states and professional coaches.
“We’re kind of unique that all our kids are from the area and our roster is pretty solid,” Green said. “And me and some other dads just love the game and coaching the kids.”
The boys have been dreaming about competing in the elite tournament for years. They qualified each of the past two years, but opted not to compete. Before this season started, the parents and boys committed to travel to Florida if they qualified again.
To qualify for the Elite World Series, the boys needed to win a Super NIT Tournament. After coming up short in tournaments in Houston and Dallas, the Oklahoma Legends punched their ticket at Memorial Day event in Kansas City. The boys swept all seven games to win the KC Sports Memorial Day Select30 Super NIT.
“It’s a big financial commitment and we were not ready for it before, but we talked about this year and decided to do it,” said coach Cory Green. “We didn’t start out so well this year and that put some pressure on the boys, but they won in Kansas City to make it.”
The Oklahoma Legends are the first team from the state in their age group to qualify for the USSSA Elite World Series.
This summer has been full of highlights for the boys. They won the USSSA State Championship in Tulsa in June and USSA Global World Series last month in Bixby. They closed out the regular summer schedule last weekend by winning an OK Kids Tournament in Chickasha.
The Oklahoma Legends competes in both USSA Baseball and OK Kids Baseball Association.
The team plays a lengthy schedule with about 80 games in the summer and 30 in fall. They start indoor practices in January and wrap up the season in July. The trip to Orlando will mark the official end of the summer season.