ND's Graviett finds ninth time's the charm

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Bulldogs' coach finally tracked down his state title.

SPRINGFIELD -- Jeff Graviett finally earned a title in the ninth trip of his career to the final four.

Between coaching softball and baseball, Graviett had made eight trips to the final before Friday, but never had returned to Cape Girardeau bearing the first-place hardware.

On Graviett's ninth trip to state -- with the baseball team Friday and Saturday -- he finally took part in the celebration that he has been forced to watch so many times.

Graviett and his baseball team posted an 18-4 win over Carl Junction in the Class 3 title game Saturday to win the fourth title in the program's history and the first since 1993.

"It's a proud feeling for the program and for the kids," Graviett said. "If you have anything to do with high school athletics, whether you play or coach, you dream of getting one. That's your ultimate goal. So it feels good. But to get one with the group of guys this is and to share one with coach [Tim] Garner -- we've been coaching together for a long time -- and to see one hanging up for the baseball program, it's been a long time for them. It's just a great feeling to get over that hump."

Graviett now has been to five final fours in baseball and four final fours in softball.

Oran boy gets ring

Trenton St. Cin grew up in Oran watching the successful Eagles baseball program, which has appeared in seven final fours since 1998, but hasn't earned a first-place finish.

When high school rolled around, St. Cin chose Notre Dame, and he is glad he did.

As he said, he is the only one in Oran with a state baseball ring.

"I'm not going to be too cocky about it," St. Cin joked.

St. Cin played a big role in the championship game when he replaced Jeremy Essner as the designated hitter in the fifth inning. St. Cin singled to left field in his first at-bat and later scored on a wild pitch.

St. Cin also stroked a two-run single in the seventh inning.

"I got an at-bat yesterday [in the semifinal]," St. Cin. "I got to pinch-hit and I struck out. That really had been bothering me all day. I just wanted the chance to get into this game today and I got three at-bats and put the ball [in play] twice."

Strong defense

Senior Ryan Bass made an error on the first defensive play of the game for Notre Dame, but the Bulldogs played error-free ball the rest of the way.

Graviett said that the one error in the title game was the only error his team committed in its last four games.

"That's one reason we did what we did," Graviett said. "Defense has just been solid and our pitchers can rely on that stuff, which is a big difference."

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