As members of the Oklahoma Christian University baseball team work to juggle practices and conditioning workouts in preparation for their spring season, some of their number are gearing up for a fall season as members of the junior varsity (JV) team.
Eagles head coach Lonny Cobble says he started the JV program last year as a way to get more players experience and to develop young talent for possible varsity positions.
“We don’t really recruit just a JV player,” Cobble said. “We recruit and then decide where they go after practicing. Some players develop faster than others, but we hope all players move up to varsity at some point while at OC.”
This year’s JV baseball team will play 30 games and travel within the Oklahoma City metro area.
Cobble said he thinks the program is good for Oklahoma Christian because it helps with recruitment and brings more people to a Christian school.
For sophomore Tyler Todd, he said his JV offer from the Eagles was the only reason he chose to come to Oklahoma Christian.
“I had a roster spot guaranteed for me at Harding University and if OC had not offered JV playing time, I would have probably ended up there,” Todd said. “With JV, we get a lot of playing time and are not on an intense schedule like the varsity. Plus, last year all of the games were at OC, so it was really convenient.”
Tyler said although the JV team is more relaxed than varsity, the players are still competitive and want to win.
“It has a short season compared to the varsity, and practices last year were odd and limited since the varsity was the priority,” Todd said. “At the end of the day, though, if you want to just relax and have fun, stick with intramurals.”
While the JV baseball program approaches its second season, similar programs are in the works for other Oklahoma Christian sports, including a softball program, which head coach Tom Heath hopes to see implemented by next fall.
“All of the sports have been asked by the administration to help bring more students in,” Heath said. “They realize that there are kids who won’t come to OC unless we make them an offer to play some ball. So, we want to do our part to help the administration and admission departments by bringing more students to campus.”
According to Heath, Oklahoma Christian had a JV program ten years ago. At that time, each JV player was given a $2,000 scholarship to play for the Lady Eagles.
“Now we are in the NCAA and we can’t give money to JV players,” Heath said. “Instead, what OC has done for all sports is put a minimum on our varsity team. For softball, ours is 16. For each person over that number, whether it be a varsity or JV player, the school will give us so much money and that will go straight into our budget. We will use some of that to operate a JV team.”
The Lady Eagles will use next year’s graduate assistant to coach the team and play only in the fall.
“Those kids will not play varsity at all, unless we found one that was really good, then we might move them up,” Heath said. “They will play junior colleges, like we did the last time we had a program, and if other colleges are starting programs, then we will play those schools. But, we will probably not travel much.”
Heath plans on starting the program by next fall. He says that anyone interested in playing should email him or learn more here.
“I know that there are enough kids out there who did not get offers, and still want to play,” Heath said. “Those are the kids we are looking at. We are promoting our university, promoting the academic money we can give them, and get them a great education while they have a great time playing ball.”