Pioneers return to get ready


Brad Gilbert - bgilbert@civitasmedia.com



Atlanta Braves rookie, Justin Ellison wearing his new Braves longsleeve is back in town to prep for spring training.


Notice there is no screen behind home plate yet. The net was damaged toward the end of last season. A new one is ready to go up soon.


Former Olustee star, Taylor Avila, is in ready position at 3rd base when the pitch is delivered.


Strike 3! This breaking pitch proved too much to handle. Notice the crowd huddled on the South side of the dugout. That’s how you know you are approaching Spring baseball season. Players start looking for wind breaks.


A very good example of staying closed as long as possible and letting that front hip lead the momentum


Josh Anthony has played about every position on the field for the Pioneers. Today he keeps his throwing hand warm in his back pocket.


Justin Ellison checks his feet in the on-deck circle. Ellison, a Georgia native, is getting ready for Spring Training and expects to be assigned to the Braves A-ball affiliate in Rome, Georgia.


The showdown between the pitcher and catcher is one of sports beautiful moments. It’s him versus you and it’s a battle neither player expects to lose. The pitcher is coming with his best and the hitter knows he is coming.


There is a reason why former Pioneers baseball players return to Altus just ahead of Spring training. They come here because they know when they leave here, they will be ready.

Justin Ellison, Western’s stud center-fielder on last year’s runner-up team, is one of several players putting in their work here. Ellison signed with Atlanta during the Spring season in 2015 and is eager to step onto the Braves’ Spring Training facility as a pro.

The pitchers that return here know they will be able to get their arms ready by facing live batters. At this level, the drills that little league coaches spend much of practice time trying to do gives way to actual baseball. It’s the best way to prepare. These pros grab their stick and helmet and jump right in the on-deck circle and walk up to the batter’s box like the same as a red-shirt freshman. I’m sure it’s a little different. There is no walk-up music at Western’s practices.

Andrelton Simmons will return again soon. He is to be inducted into the Western Oklahoma State College alumni Hall of Fame at the end of this month. Simmons is scheduled for a banquet dinner ceremony and a meet and greet for his fans. In the days surrounding these events, Simmons will ready himself for his first spring training with his new team.

After the Braves decide to wholesale almost every single player they had, Simmons is now an Anaheim Angel. The 6’2” 195 lbs. shortstop now joins two of the best players in the game, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Simmons should shine in California. The Angels are a legit contender for a World Series crown and now they add the most prolific defender in the game today.

For his efforts last season in Atlanta, Simmons was selected by Rawlings as the defense man of the year in the Major League. The award is well deserved. If you ever want some baseball entertaining defense just look up Simmons highlights. Notice how long his highlight videos are. He makes throws that simply would not be attempted by other professional shortstops. His instincts to the ball are unparalleled. The 26 year old kid can play.

Such a prolific player speaks volumes to Western Head Coach Kurt Russell’s recruiting ability. He can bring in the studs. He obviously can get them ready.

Guess where Simmons was a year ago to prepare for Spring Training? He was in the same place he will be this year.

He will be right here in Altus.

Atlanta Braves rookie, Justin Ellison wearing his new Braves longsleeve is back in town to prep for spring training.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_1.jpgAtlanta Braves rookie, Justin Ellison wearing his new Braves longsleeve is back in town to prep for spring training.

Notice there is no screen behind home plate yet. The net was damaged toward the end of last season. A new one is ready to go up soon.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_2.jpgNotice there is no screen behind home plate yet. The net was damaged toward the end of last season. A new one is ready to go up soon.

Former Olustee star, Taylor Avila, is in ready position at 3rd base when the pitch is delivered.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_3.jpgFormer Olustee star, Taylor Avila, is in ready position at 3rd base when the pitch is delivered.

Strike 3! This breaking pitch proved too much to handle. Notice the crowd huddled on the South side of the dugout. That’s how you know you are approaching Spring baseball season. Players start looking for wind breaks.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_4.jpgStrike 3! This breaking pitch proved too much to handle. Notice the crowd huddled on the South side of the dugout. That’s how you know you are approaching Spring baseball season. Players start looking for wind breaks.

A very good example of staying closed as long as possible and letting that front hip lead the momentum
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_5.jpgA very good example of staying closed as long as possible and letting that front hip lead the momentum

Josh Anthony has played about every position on the field for the Pioneers. Today he keeps his throwing hand warm in his back pocket.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_6-1.jpgJosh Anthony has played about every position on the field for the Pioneers. Today he keeps his throwing hand warm in his back pocket.

Justin Ellison checks his feet in the on-deck circle. Ellison, a Georgia native, is getting ready for Spring Training and expects to be assigned to the Braves A-ball affiliate in Rome, Georgia.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_7-1.jpgJustin Ellison checks his feet in the on-deck circle. Ellison, a Georgia native, is getting ready for Spring Training and expects to be assigned to the Braves A-ball affiliate in Rome, Georgia.

The showdown between the pitcher and catcher is one of sports beautiful moments. It’s him versus you and it’s a battle neither player expects to lose. The pitcher is coming with his best and the hitter knows he is coming.
http://altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/web1_8-1.jpgThe showdown between the pitcher and catcher is one of sports beautiful moments. It’s him versus you and it’s a battle neither player expects to lose. The pitcher is coming with his best and the hitter knows he is coming.

Brad Gilbert

bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

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