Baseball Coach Brad Davis and his VIsion for Braggs

Former Gore coach out to blow life into baseball ‘remnant’ at Braggs

Brad Davis looks over the place and sees “remnants” of greater times.

Those would include the collection of state tournament trophies at Braggs High School, some won as recent as 1986 and 1987.

Kevin King, bound eventually for the Seattle Mariners, had an ERA of less than 1.00 and catcher Dean Kizzia once drove in 61 runs in a season, leading the way to three Class B state title wins over the fall and spring seasons.

Prior to that there was a title in 1968, part of a run of several state tournament appearances that decade.

These days, there’s been times of barely fielding a team in the spring, let alone the fall, with just a handful of spring games the past two years — and no season in 2020 due to COVID-19. The last fall season played was 2019.

The 42-year-old Davis has arrived there to change that, first with a much-needed facelift on the grounds guys like King and Kizzia — and a few more Kizzias — once trod.

“We’re working on it. It’s starting to shape up,” said Davis, who agreed this summer to take over the program after spending the last seven years at Gore. His wife is a Warner native, the family has ranch land there, and he left the staff at Tulsa Union to go to Canadian two years before landing at Gore to be close enough to help out on that land.

He constructed the plate area yesterday and created a bullpen box. Also done was hanging a new hitting net.

“It’s come a long ways already,” he said. “”We found there’s something underneath all that grass that had grown in their. It’ll be a refreshing sight for the eye instead of the eyesore it had become.”

He’s also got to have a roster.

Right now, there’s nine out for varsity-level play. Within that minimum, there is more than one pitcher. A couple years ago, Class 2A Haskell had exactly that number and almost reached the state tournament.

A junior high program is taking shape again.

“It’s surprising, they’re very athletic. They have capabilities of doing it, it’s just about getting practice in,” Davis said. “They haven’t done a lot of that the last few years. That’s what we’re working on.

“It’s nice. They’re going to let me have a period during the day where they’ll let me take the younger kids, starting as young as third and fourth grade, and get them interested in baseball again.”

Chad Harp, the Braggs superintendent, said he saw hope in that when Davis’ resume was among those they looked at.

“He’s got a really good reputation at Gore for what he’s done there. He’s an exceptional teacher with good relationship with players and parents,” he said. “They haven’t had tremendous success but have been on the cusp of success a lot. They’ve had to deal with Rattan and Oktaha, teams like that which have double seasons and it’s not really a level playing field.”

The idea of a double-season opportunity was what sold Davis.

“Football is the king in this state and it’s on everybody’s mind, but you’ll find some pockets where they still hold baseball dearly to their heart,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 thing too. You find places where their vision aligns with your vision, all it takes is some attention and time to get it going and that’s what we’re hoping for.

Count Sheila Kizzia among those.

The mother of Dean Kizzia is still a teacher at Braggs — 25 years in all with stops in other places.. Dean passed away in 2019. Her husband Terry was part of the successful run in the ‘60s. She has another son, Kevin, who was part of those teams with Dean.

The thought of a baseball renaissance of any level gets her emotional.

“We’ve had a run of coaches who had to coach both basketball and baseball and generally they had their preferred sport,” she said. “This will do so much for so many in the community still here who played with Terry and have kids who were on Kevin and Dean’s teams.”

Fall baseball season starts Monday. Braggs is at Crowder on Tuesday in a 4:30 p.m. start.