Baseball Spartans Successful in 6A
By Bixby Breeze, A GTR Newspaper
Bixby hoped for a berth in the state tournament for the first time ever as a member in Class 6A. It came close as it set itself up in position to become regional champions after cruising through a pair of wins over Booker T. Washington (12-2) and Stillwater (12-3) through the first two rounds.
But the Spartans, who entered the title game from the winners’ bracket, could not get past Stillwater a second time (9-7) and were forced to play a “rubber game.” They also dropped that contest to the Pioneers (3-0), and the 2016 season came to a close.
Still, Bixby made progress under second-year coach Glenn Sullivan, who played football and baseball at the University of Oklahoma in the ‘80s. The Spartans finished with a record of 29-9 and finished as regional runner-up, exactly seven games better and one step further in playoffs compared to where it ended last year.
“The kids played really well.” Sullivan says. “They responded to everything we asked them to do. I really think we were one of the top teams in the state. I don’t think there was anybody better. The ball just didn’t bounce our way in the last two games. We didn’t get the key hit when we needed it or make the key pitch when we needed it.
“Obviously, the best team doesn’t always win,” Sullivan says. “And I felt like we were the better team. But at the same time, you got to give Stillwater credit. They scrapped and clawed and made the plays they needed to make. We just didn’t get it done.”
Ending their prep careers with the Spartans were seniors Gavin Staton (left fielder/pitcher), Cade Cabbiness (right/center fielder), Breydon Daniel, (first baseman), Braden Hackler (outfielder) and Austin Griffin (pitcher).
“Coming in as a new coach along with a new staff last year, we implemented a new demeanor with the kids as far as their approach to the game,” Sullivan says. “Those kids, having to make a change going into their junior year was tough. They were great kids. They bought into what we were doing, what we were trying to do, they trusted us as coaches. I just can’t say enough about them about that.
“They were great leaders and great players for us, and I just hated it for them and hurt for them that we came up short of making the state tournament,” Sullivan says.
Cade Cabbiness, the son of Chris Cabbiness and nephew of Carl Cabbiness, who had football careers at OU in the 1980s, was considered one of the leading hitters in the state. He finished as Bixby’s top hitter, batting .472. Cade Cabiness has signed with Seminole State but has Division-I offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts and Kansas State.
Pitcher Austin Griffin was Bixby’s ace.
“Austin gets up to 85-86 miles per hour,” Sullivan says. “He has a good cutter, good curveball and a good sinker. When he’s throwing strikes, he is really tough to hit. That’s what makes him our No. 1 (pitcher).”
Juniors Tanner Griffin (catcher and short stop), Austin’s brother and quarterback of the football team, Nic Swanson (third baseman/short stop), Cade Cavali (pitcher/short stop/catcher), Jeremy Goodwin (third baseman) and Cole Parker (second baseman), along with sophomore Matthew Henderson (outfielder) will be the returning starters for the 2017 season.
Tanner Griffin is already committed to play football at OSU and Cavali has made one to play baseball at OU.
“We expect to be really good,” Sullivan says. “That is always going to be our expectation at Bixby. We’re going to set our goals high. We’re going to try to compete for state championships every year. We have the foundation and support from the administration and the athletic department, and we have great kids and great parents.
The Spartans also have pitcher Jake Bennett coming back next season. He went 5-0 on the mound as a freshman starter this season. Bennett produced 38 strikeouts in 33 innings and broke the school record for the lowest ERA at .624.
“We like our potential on the mound and the potential we have coming back,” Sullivan says.