The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

May 1, 2014

Wonder Boys, Muleriders and Boll Weevils, oh my

ENID, Okla. — The benefit of having one of the premier baseball parks in Oklahoma — David Allen Memorial Ballpark — is that Enid serves as host to numerous baseball tournaments in addition to serving as the home park for Enid High School, Northern Oklahoma College Enid, and of course, Enid’s Connie Mack summer league teams.

During the early spring we are treated to events such as the Gladys Winters Memorial prep tournament and the Merrifield Office Plus Invitational. Of course, later this month the ballpark again serves as host of the junior college Division II World Series and the Connie Mack qualifier and regional tournaments are slated for later this summer.

But in between all of those events is another tournament, the Great American Conference baseball tournament.

The GAC, an NCAA Division II conference with schools in Arkansas and Oklahoma, will crown its champ again this year at David Allen, with the tournament opening Saturday and running through Tuesday. While plenty of competitive baseball is played at David Allen, the GAC has consistently provided some of the highest quality play at the ballpark since arriving on the scene in 2012.

Six teams are in this year’s field, including defending champion Southern Arkansas Muleriders and Oklahoma’s lone representative, Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs, with the tournament’s first pitch set for noon Saturday between the top-seeded Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys and Ouachita Baptist Tigers.

The GAC sports some of the coolest nicknames, such as the aforementioned Muleriders and Wonder Boys, in addition to the Boll Weevils (Arkansas-Monticello). Also in the field are the Harding Bisons.

Local fans will recognize some of the players as  SWOSU has four former NOC Enid Jets on its roster, while Ouachita Baptist has an assistant coach whose name likely is familiar to our readers, Nick Rountree, the son of former News & Eagle sports editor Mark Rountree, and one time standout for the Enid Majors, Redlands and later with Arkansas-Little Rock.

Northwestern Oklahoma State, along with Southern Nazarene, is a provisional member of the GAC as it is transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II and is  ineligible for this year’s tournament. Starting next year both will be eligible. NWOSU finished 10th in the 11-team league (ahead of SNU) with a record of 8-22 in the GAC and 25-25 overall.

 The GAC is in the last year of a three-year deal to play its conference tournament at David Allen. GAC commissioner Will Prewitt said in an email the league is “happy with what David Allen Ballpark provides our student-athletes ...” Prewitt also said the league is discussing extending its agreement with David Allen.

With the weather forecast calling for lots of sun this weekend, David Allen would seem to be a solid destination for the family. Besides, how often do you get to check out a bunch of Wonder Boys, Muleriders and even Boll Weevils?

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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