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Sports

July 10, 2013

Tyler applies lessons learned from TRENT

DUNCAN — Former Duncan baseball player Tyler Wilkins doesn’t hesitate when naming his favorite moment from the time he spent playing for the Demons.

The memory comes from what would be seen as a rare chain of events at first glance. A senior center fielder blasts a home run and a few batters later, his teammate, a freshman catcher, adds to the offensive outburst with a grand slam later that inning.

Add in the fact that those two players were brothers and the event became a once in a lifetime experience.

Yes, the first player was Tyler’s older brother Trent Wilkins and Tyler was the one following his brother’s lead with the grand slam.

With Trent teaching him the ropes over the years, Tyler became a star on the diamond for Duncan en route to a career at Northeastern State, where he is now a junior.

“I grew up watching Trent play, and learned so much from him about playing catcher and the right approach at the plate,” Tyler Wilkins said. “It was always a great feeling seeing him succeed and do the right things. Playing with him was a lot of fun.”

In 2013, the brothers once again played side by side for the RiverHawks after spending time at different schools.

After graduating from Duncan in 2011, Tyler Wilkins spent a year at Northern Oklahoma College Enid, which he said helped with the transition from the high school to college game.

“I think a lot of people think it’s not that competitive, but you’re facing some really talented players,” Wilkins said. “The time playing there helped me more than anything. A lot of the players are at that level only because they are trying to get drafted.”

In his experience, that quality of competition is exactly what Wilkins is used to. He spent years facing off against 2011 MLB first round pick and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy and spent a summer in Oklahoma City playing with Washington Nationals emerging star and household name Bryce Harper. That same year, playing for an eighth grade Oklahoma Elite team, Wilkins also shared the diamond with Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Kendal Thompson.

“We certainly did well that year,” Wilkins said. “It was cool to see Bryce set himself apart from the competition, even at a young age.”

In his time with the Demons, Duncan baseball was synonymous with success. The team reached the Class 5A State Tournament his freshman and junior year and hosted regionals multiple times as well.

“We always had a great group of seniors. I think that’s something you saw with those teams every year,” Wilkins said. “It was such a great experience being able to play some of the best teams in the state and knowing that there really wasn’t anyone in Class 5A that we couldn’t hold our own against.”

Duncan even had a chance to face Oklahoma powerhouse Owasso, led by Bundy, and gave them as good of a game as the Rams would see for a long time.

“We got to play them because our coach played there. We really gave them a scare,” Wilkins said. “Bundy pitched that day and we only lost 3-2.”

Along with fellow former Duncan stars Kale Thaxton, Dillon Stanley, Christian Thaxton and Trent, Tyler gave back to the community he grew up in at a youth baseball camps two weeks ago. Wilkins, inspired by the desire to teach the younger generation the nuances of the game, served as the camp’s organizer.

“We had a lot of fun,” Wilkins said. “It was great being able to pass on that knowledge and we had a decent turnout.”

Having made it to the college ranks, Wilkins brings high hopes for his final two seasons playing for NSU. He is studying business management, but doesn’t know what he will do after graduation.

 

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