May 11, 2009

Soper beats Verden for Class A state title

DOLESE PARK – It had all the earmarks of one of those classic sports stories except for the ending.

Verden coach Roy Edwards’ final game after 32 years in the third base box should have finished with his Tigers finally winning a Class A state championship Saturday at Dolese Park. In 12 previous appearances, they had made it to the title game three times and had been denied three times. It only seemed fitting this Hall of Fame coach, with over 1,100 career wins, should go out with his biggest.

But this was real life. Soper, from far southeast Oklahoma, was also gunning for their first-ever state championship, and they spoiled the story-book ending with a 5-2 win.

Ironically, they did it with first-year coach Thomas Carpino, a Soper grad and former assistant who took over the program after the fall season.

With everything on the line, both teams threw their aces with one day’s rest and caution to the wind.

Verden struck right out of the blocks. Tyler Mitchell worked a one-out walk from Cody Linn in the top of the first inning and scored on Wade Crowder’s single, but the Bears answered in the bottom of the second with three runs.

Jarrod Self singled sharply up the middle with one out then the Tigers’ Dan Edwards walked three batters in a row to force Self in to tie the game. Cade Scott scored on a wild pitch to give Soper the lead and Verden had to trade an out for a run on Hunter Burns’ grounder to the right side before they got out of it down 3-1.

The Bears extended in the third on catcher Casey Boling’s two-run home run to deep left-center then almost blew the thing open. Zane Nelm followed Boling slicing a double to deep right and Self beat out a sacrifice bunt to put runners on the corners with no one out.

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