Bethel High School renamed their softball field Tommy Block Field after the long-time coach during a ceremony following the Lady Wildcats' season opening win over Maud on Tuesday.
BETHEL – It may have been the worst-kept secret in Bethel Acres, but it still caught head softball coach Tommy Block by surprise when Superintendent Jerry Johnston took a microphone to home plate following the Lady Wildcats’ 8-0 win over Maud on Tuesday evening.
Johnston and the overflow crowd were there to honor Block and his 34 years at Bethel – 19 of those as head coach of the fast pitch softball program, by naming the softball complex Tommy Block Field.
A new scoreboard had been installed at the field over the summer, but a covering kept the portion with Block’s name from being seen until Tuesday.
“It was a special thing,” Block said. “I wasn’t’ expecting that. It was a surprise.”
Block has coached fast pitch and slow pitch softball as well as baseball during his time in Bethel, leading 24 state tournament teams and winning six state championships. Two of those titles came in fast pitch in 1998 and 1999, while the other four came in slow pitch.
“It’s been a long time,” Block said. [My name] is up there not because of me but because of these kids and the work that they’ve put in over the years. I expect to win and I have high expectations. It’s just been years and years of girls coming in and carrying on the tradition.”
Many of Block’s former players witnessed the Lady Wildcats’ run-rule win in the season opener for both teams. Bethel broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the third and three more in the fourth, adding one unearned run in the fifth to end the game.
Starting pitcher Kim Herren had two RBIs at the plate while also pitching the shutout. Maud’s only real threat came in the top of the fifth when a pair of hard-hit singles put two runners on before Herren finished the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
Bry Flanagan had an RBI base hit in the third and a triple in the fourth, scoring twice. Rylee Steward also had two hits.
But the day belonged to Block and his three-plus decades of service to Bethel.
“It’s been a good place to be. I’ve been here 34 years and never wanted to be anywhere else.”
Bethel’s next games will be on Thursday, when they take on Mount St. Mary and Little Axe in the Chisholm Trail Classic.
Maud plays Monday at Wewoka.