Oran's Seyer helped take Eagles to state semifinals

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

A person can do a lot more in a garage than just park a car.

For instance, it's the perfect place to hone your baseball skills to become the Southeast Missourian Player of the Year.

For Oran junior catcher Nathan Seyer, it was just the site to turn his bat into a lethal weapon. One that would get one hit in just under every two at-bats (.513), knock five home runs and drive in 30 runs.

When his little brother, Chase, brought home a tee and net earlier in the spring from a baseball tournament in Tennessee, his mother, Sherry, saw her car expelled from its security from the elements.

The garage became a favorite hangout for Oran hitters, and even opponents.

"We'd go over there and hit for hours," said Oran first baseman Tyler Cookson. "Heck, before the quarterfinal game we had some Advance people over there hitting with us, too."

Advance was the final stepping stone to the Class 1A final four, where the Eagles finished third in the state to complete a 20-5 season.

Seyer said there were often five or six players swinging away in the garage.

"Mom would get mad because she couldn't park her car in the garage," Seyer said. "I left the tee and the net up all season and hit almost every day."

But Mrs. Seyer's Chrysler Concorde sitting in the driveway doesn't explain the rest of her son's success.

After all, it doesn't account for the 17 stolen bases, 41 runs scored or an arm that cut down 17 of 27 base stealers.

All of the numbers were a drastic improvement on a sophomore year which he hovered around .300 at the plate and struggled to throw out base runners in his first high school season behind the plate.

A weight room may have also played a role. Seyer stands 6-foot-2 with a big frame that could easily carry more than its current 175 pounds.

"We lifted over the year and I think my arm got 10 times stronger than last year," Seyer said. "Last year I didn't think I was going to be able to throw anybody out."

But the garage routine may have helped the bat.

"It seems like it did," Seyer said. "I don't know, it might just have been my year. But I'd be betting hitting off the tee helped."

The tee may have taken him back to his roots, where he and many of his talented junior teammates began their long journey to become one of the area's top high school teams.

"We've been working together for about 12 years now, from tee ball to high school," Seyer said.

He's been just one part of a tight-knit, athletic group that has been coming along for years, and on which rest high expectations. The journey has included little league teams and all-star teams in a variety of sports.

This year the group came into its own with Seyer leading the way. He led the Eagles' basketball team, which started four juniors and a sophomore, in rebounding and scoring. A 21-7 season came to an end in the district championship against eventual state champion Bell City.

When baseball rolled around, Seyer was again leading the way on a team which started seven juniors, one senior and one sophomore.

"He's always been an athlete, but this year he stepped up and took it to another level," Cookson said.

Even on a team filled with .400 hitters, Seyer stood out.

"We don't have to rely on one person, but he's carried us a lot this year with being consistent," Cookson said.

His athletic ability and charisma allowed him to provide a spark in a variety of ways.

"He's one of those kids when good things happen to him, then we kind of feed off of it," Oran coach Mitch Wood said.

That's one of the reasons why Seyer climbed from the No. 5 spot in the order all the way to leadoff man.

He set the tone for the junior class' first district baseball title by hitting a game-opening home run in the championship game, sparking a 16-2, five-inning romp of Bell City.

"He keeps us all excited and into the game," junior pitcher Trey Graviett said. "He makes it fun."

The spark could also come from his arm, such as the game when the threw out three Sedalia Sacred Heart baserunners.

Sparks also come from his mind. He's a fiery competitor with leadership skills and wit, which he displays in a soft-spoken country drawl. He's tied for the top ranking in his class and scored 30 on the ACT.

"He's a little bit of a cut-up," Cookson said. "He'll get on you if you did something, but in the same breath he'll also pick you up."

He combined all his talents for a breakout season, and bigger days may yet be ahead for Seyer and the Eagles.

"His biggest thing for next year is to step up and keep doing the same things he's been doing," Wood said. "After a season like he had this year, that'd be a task to do."

A similar or even better year, could be bad news for his sister Amber.

Her car occupies the other side of the garage.

jbreer@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 124

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