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Shawnee baseball program was off to a magnificent start

Brian Johnson
Sports Editor
Carson Payne

Experience, promise and perfection...all the ducks were lined up in a row toward Shawnee High School having a magnificent baseball season.

The Wolves got off to a perfect 3-0 start and outscored the opposition by a whopping 42-3 margin during that span.

Then came COVID-19 and an abrupt ending to a disappointingly short 2020 season.

“We were playing really well, pitching really well and playing good defense,” said Shawnee head coach Kevin Paxson. “Not to have that chance for them to go through the season is pretty tough. Whether it was hitting, base-running, pitching or defense, I thought we were really focused on what was in front of us.”

To say Shawnee was primed for a strong season is a mild understatement.

Of the Wolves' seven seniors, five have signed to play collegiately next season and a sixth is expected to play on the next level but is undecided where.

Shawnee's seven seniors consist of Scout Cawvey, J'Briell Easley, Austin Gonzales, J.T. Johnson, Carson Payne, Tanner Bare and Rob Campbell.

Cawvey will play at Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa, Easley at Cowley County (Kansas), Gonzales at Coffeyville (Kansas), Johnson and Payne at Carl Albert State College and Bare has several options.

Easley, who has the attention of pro scouts, did not play in the three games due to be still being involved in basketball and was an integral part Shawnee's run to a berth in the state basketball tournament, which was also not played due to the coronavirus.

Gonzales owned a .667 batting average with four runs batted in and five runs scored through the first three games. Bare possessed a .556 batting average with two homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored and Cawvey had a .500 average with three RBIs and seven runs scored while hitting in the leadoff spot. Johnson was batting .364 with three RBIs after those three contests.

Payne pitched in the three-inning season opener, a 22-1 thumping of Tulsa Memorial, and allowed just one run and one hit while striking out five and walking just two.

After hammering Tulsa Memorial in the opener, the Wolves followed that up with an 11-1 rout of the Chargers to complete a doubleheader sweep. Shawnee then smacked Sand Springs, 9-1.

“Sand Springs was really good last year and Tulsa Memorial has a good history,” Paxson said.

Paxson praised the efforts of Campbell.

“He was a big part of the program and was the type of player you want in the program,” said Paxson. “I'm proud of all these guys. They were really on the right track to do something special. But this (coronavirus) was much bigger than baseball. I just hope things can get under control and we get back to a normal routine. I am proud of all of our seniors and I know that they all will be successful in the next chapters of their lives.”