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Woodward Travelers 18U
Finish Season 48-11

Oklahoma State Runner Up

South Plains Regional

 

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What started as one of the strangest seasons in history with a host of question marks turned into another successful campaign as the Travelers persevered through the 2020 summer eventually playing more games than any other 18-and-under team in the state of Oklahoma.
Their 37-12 overall record was the fifth year in a row the club has eclipsed a .739 winning percentage or higher since returning to Woodward in 2016.Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.56.09 AM.png

Uncertainty reined through the early portion of the season with the annual trek to the Tony Andenucio Tournament in Pueblo along with the Topeka tournament canceled in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Thanks to the support of the city of Woodward the Travelers were able to trudge on with one of the only available facilities around the state for the first month of the season. Twenty-three of the team’s first 26 games were held in the friendly confines of Fuller Park.

The Travelers returned as champions of the Route 66 Classic, captured the Connie Mack Regional Qualifier, reached the finals of the Traveler Shootout and also advanced to the semifinals of the Central Oklahoma Championships at Bricktown Ballpark.
Injuries played a key part in the campaign, limiting numbers from the start with a host of players making just a handful of appearances due to a variety of circumstances throughout the summer.

Two-year starting shortstop Ty Goss was lost before the season ever began to a shoulder injury, leaving a big hole in the middle of the infield. Stalwart first baseman Brendon Girton was lost to an elbow injury late in the season and pitching ace Dillon Bumgarner was slowed by a back issue through much of the campaign.

Despite all the uncertainty, the 2020 Travelers put up strong numbers throughout the season, reeling off 16 consecutive wins in one stretch from June 13 to July 8. The team compiled a .371 overall batting average while scoring an average of 8.8 runs per contest.

Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 8.13.24 AM.pngLeading the charge was Redlands Junior College signee Parker Ward, who recorded a team-best .472 offensive average that included 10 doubles and three triples as well as a .593 on-base percentage. He scored a team-leading 57 runs with just seven strikeouts in 172 plate appearances and also became a fixture in centerfield most of the year. He stole 16 bases.

From May 28th through the remainder of the season Ward struck out just 2 times over 142 plate appearances while posting a .529 batting average during that stretch of games.
Ward also contributed a 3-0 record on the mound with a 2.17 earned run average in 19 1/3 innings of work.

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 8.21.54 AM.pngBrady Benedict returned for his second year with the club and proved to be one of the team’s most consistent hitters again, compiling a .448 average with 16 doubles and two triples to go along with a blistering 53 RBI in just 43 games played.

Benedict was a run producing machine in the 3 and 4 slots of the order for most of the summer and one of the toughest left handed outs the Travelers have seen over the past few seasons.  He was a team leader on the field as well as on the mound. The Eastern Junior College signee added a 2-1 pitching record and two saves in 23 innings, notching a 5.17 ERA.

 

First-year Traveler Luke Jestis quickly became a mainstay at the top of the batting order and spent Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 8.46.07 AM.pngmost of his time defensively as shortstop, ending with a .427 batting average that included 10 doubles, four triples and a home run. He drove in 24 runs and scored another 48 while tossing in a team-high 19 stolen bases.
In 25 1/3 innings on the mound the Eastern signee contributed a 3-2 record and one save with a 2.76 ERA. Jestis was in full attack mode at the plate and became a team favorite and leader for the 2020 Travelers.

 

After sitting out the 2019 campaign, Girton returned to the Travelers in 2020 where he Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 8.56.07 AM.pngspent the season as a key cog in the batting order while awaiting his opportunity to pitch collegiately at Texas Tech.

His time was limited on the mound preparing for college, but Travelers saw Girton's 95mph fast ball on a few occasions over the 2020 campaign.

Girton proved to be a RBI machine and home run threat in the middle of the batting order.  Especially with the wood bat.

The Shattuck native hit .412 at the plate, topping the squad with four home runs and adding another 10 doubles, 41 RBI and 45 runs scored.  Girton was a team favorite and leader on and off the field during the 2020 summer.

 

 Another Eastern signee, Aiden Bagwell, moved into the pitching ace role of the staff most of the summer 

Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.00.36 AM.pngwhile drawing most of the toughest assignments and in the process posted a 4-2 record. He tallied a 4.99 ERA and a team-leading 46 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.
The versatile righthander also developed into one of the team’s top hitters through the middle of the campaign, ending with a .388 average at the plate and 26 runs batted in.

Third-year Traveler Michael Wingfield once again displayed his outstanding speed and Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.05.35 AM.pngdefensive prowess in the outfield during another fine season which was parlayed into a college offer from Southeastern Oklahoma State.
The fleet-footed lefty hit .365 for the season, scored 26 runs and drove in 19.

Wingfield proved again this summer that he has a special gift for tracking balls down in the outfield.

 

Redlands signee David Garcia proved to be a workhorse behind the plate once again for the Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.07.58 AM.pngTravelers in 2020 with a solid .972 fielding percentage in 253 chances for the season.

Garcia again showed tremendous defensive ability behind the plate, throwing out runners from his knees and providing great ability to control the game for his pitching staff.

At the plate he notched a .248 average that included 10 doubles, one triple, two homers and 33 runs batted in.


Leedey native Dalton Goff played a regular role as a corner infielder throughout the season as Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.17.04 AM.pngwell, finishing second on the team with three home runs to add to his eight doubles and 23 RBI for the year.

Goff proved defensively he can play both corner spots at the next level by making pressure plays at the corners throughout the summer.

Dalton fought through some arm trouble for a part of the season but was found healthy at the end of the season and signed to play at Rose State College this fall.


Josh Smith also quickly transitioned in his first year with the Travelers as a catalyst in the order while Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.20.10 AM.pngplaying six different positions throughout the season.
He ended with a .323 mark and 26 runs batted in at the plate, but really made presence felt on the mound as one of the squad’s most consistent hurlers.

The Durant product posted a 9-0 record, winning all eight of his starts, and added a 1.90 ERA in 40 1/3 innings.

 

After being shut down for a two-week stretch midseason, Bumgarner returned to the Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.23.10 AM.pngpitching lineup late in the year with some of his best work before wrapping up with a 4-3 mound record and 3.27 ERA. The Southeastern Oklahoma State signee only walked six batters in 40 2/3 innings.

Bumgarner was again known as the dominate force from the left side on the mound that kept hitters guessing while controlling the running game with his dominating pick off move to first.

 

For the second straight season, Will Farr was the bullpen stopper for the club with 17 appearances Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.28.57 AM.pngonce again, 14 of which came in relief.
The crafty righthander notched a 6-2 record and three saves with a spectacular 0.99 earned run average and 1.04 WHIP in 35 1/3 innings pitched. He walked only 10 batters and opponents hit just .185 against him.  Farr again proved he is a strike thrower at the highest level and is a team player and leader on the field.  Farr signed to pitch at Southeastern Oklahoma State.

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 9.34.01 AM.pngSharon-Mutual’s Conner Thompson added key contributions throughout the season off the bench for the Travelers while playing a multitude of positions as well as pitching. He recorded a .294 batting average, including a triple and five runs batted in.

First year roster player Peyton Goodall showed great promise on the mound with good velocity for just being 16 years of age.  Goodall has great upside and command of 3 pitches which makes his future with the Travelers bright over the next 3 seasons as his birthday qualifies him to pitch after his first year in college.

Junior to be Jack Puffinbarger proved that he not only can handle the defensive duties around first base, but came on late in the summer offensivley getting some key hits off top arms opening the door for him to produce for the Travelers at a high level over the next 2 seasons.

Drake Page is another Junior to be that proved he can play multiple spots defensively including catching and pitching.  Page has great potential at the plate both as a contact hitter and power potential that should translate over the next 2 years.  

Kason Dunham spot played late in the year and shows promise both as an infielder and right handed pitcher.  Dunham possess great control on the mound along with an assortment of off speed pitches that make him effective against the best of hitters.

Outfielder David Cronister showed promise with the big club in the outfield late in the year.  He has above average speed tracking the ball and became a good hitter to all fields offensively.  Cronister has potential on mound from the left side over the next 2 summers.

"Overall it was a real good summer considering the circumstances" said head coach Mark Ward. "We were also able to provide teams for many younger Screen Shot 2020-09-11 at 10.48.53 AM.pngplayers around the area during the pandemic.  This helped us identify and develop a lot of young players that makes the future very bright for Travelers Baseball." Ward added.

I want to personnally thank assistant coaches Luke Ward and Kevin Farr for their tireless work this summer.  We were put in a situation to manage a lot this summer and those guys made 2020 a successful Traveler campaign.  Others coaches that need recognized are Aaron Marlatt and Ray Oakes of Travelers Blue, Chance Beck of Travelers Red and Tra Dunham of Travelers Navy.  These guys chipped in big time for our team effort of helping players in the area have a chance to play baseball.

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