GUNTER — There are many members of the current senior class at Gunter who have contributed to great success in their respective sports. So it was no surprise that a quartet which has made an impact, and is looking to do so one final time, has displayed talents now taking them to the next level.
Trey Oblas signed to play baseball for the University of Utah while Shae Pruiett is headed to North Central Texas College for volleyball and the softball battery of Rhyan Pogue and Hayden Fox picked Texas Wesleyan and Tarleton State, respectively, for their future destinations.
Fox has been committed to Tarleton since the start of her junior year.
“I walked on the campus and I knew I had to be here,” she said. “The tradition they have — it’s where I knew I needed to be.”
A four-year starter, she was the district’s Catcher of the Year as a freshman and was an honorable mention all-state selection, a Texas Girls Coaches Association All-Star and the district Defensive Player of the Year this past spring.
As a junior she hit .573 with a home run, eight doubles, four triples, 23 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
So far in her career she is a .493 hitter with seven home runs, 26 doubles and 68 RBI.
Tarleton made the jump to the Division I level this past spring and went 17-36 overall and 5-12 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Before that they had been a Division II power and were 19-4 overall and 6-0 when the 2020 season was stopped due to COVID-19. Tarleton reached the NCAA Regional eight out of nine seasons, including making the Super Regional in 2015.
In 2019 the TexAnns went 40-15 overall and in 2018 finished 50-11.
“They’ve started a new approach with Division I and I’m super excited to be a part of it,” Fox said.
Pogue picked the NAIA program after having been committed to Oklahoma Christian. She also looked at Texas A&M-Texarkana.
“COVID-19 happened and I had to start over with the recruiting process,” she said. “The family environment is just like Gunter. They’re a very small school.”
Pogue was a first-team all-district selection in the circle last season when she had a 2.90 earned run average and 141 strikeouts in 93 innings. She also hit .444 with a homer, six doubles, three triples, 19 RBI and 10 walks.
So far in her career she has a .439 average with 10 doubles, a home run, four triples and 30 RBI and a 2.40 ERA with 241 strikeouts in 154 and two thirds innings pitched.
Pogue also plays basketball and last season helped the Lady Tigers reach the region final for the first time since 2002.
Texas Wesleyan went 17-22 last season and 15-17 in the Sooner Athletic Conference, the first time in a full year the program didn’t win at least 26 games. The Lady Rams went 42-17 overall in 2018 and last made the NAIA national tourney in 2012.
“They’re looking for pitching and looking for a first baseman,” Pogue said. “I like hitting so I’m open to it. Whatever they need, I’m ready to do.”
Both Pogue and Fox will look to get Gunter past the first round of the playoffs after ending with a 17-10 mark this past season.
“After we lost to Rains, the six seniors came together to make a gameplan and hopefully we end out senior year with quite a few wins,” Fox said.
Pruiett decided on NCTC in part due to former teammate Nyah Ingram, who was a freshman for the Lions this past fall.
“I wanted to stay local. I knew I wanted to stay close to my family,” Pruiett said. “Nyah was going to be with me. It’s small like Gunter and I didn’t really look anywhere else once I knew that was where I was going to go.”
She is in the middle of another deep playoff run by the Lady Tigers, who are looking to defend their 3A Region II crown after getting to the state tournament for the first time last season before losing against eventual champ Bushland in the semifinals and with a 29-4 record.
Gunter has advanced to the region tournament in all four of her seasons and is trying to get to the region final for the fourth straight season.
Pruiett was the district Newcomer of the Year as a freshman and then earned first-team all-district honors as a sophomore and junior.
So far this season she has 220 kills, 48 blocks, 299 assists, 325 digs and 58 aces — putting her in the top four on the team in each of those categories. Pruiett is the lone senior in the rotation for the Lady Tigers.
“It has been a little bit of a different feel this season,” she said. “I had such great role models in those five seniors. I was growing into a leadership role last year because of them.”
NCTC went 21-6 this past season and won the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference title for the second time in three years with a 10-2 mark. The Lions advanced to the semifinals of the Region V North Tournament before losing against Temple.
In addition to Ingram, another local player on the roster was Van Alstyne’s Lindi Boling, who was named the NTJCAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Oblas, a first baseman, chose the Pac-12 program after he had been committed to play for the Army for more than a year.
When that situation changed, he was still able to find a Division I program.
“It put me in a little bit of a bind. I reached out to some coaches I know and was able to get out there for a tryout and they offered me,” Oblas said. “I found a perfect fit in Utah.”
He helped the Tigers reach the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2001 and Gunter ended with a 36-9 record after losing on a walk-off hit to eventual champion Malakoff in the semifinals.
The first baseman, who was a first-team all-district selection, led the team with 42 RBI and was second with a .350 batting average. He also chipped in a 2-1 record and 1.45 earned run average on the mound.
With seven starters back this spring, another trip to state could cap Oblas’ career.
“It’s about getting better piece by piece,” he said. “Every day it’s a chance to get better.”
Oblas has also been a key part of the football team’s recent run of dominance that included a state championship during his sophomore year and a state semifinal appearance last season before losing to eventual champ Canadian. He moved from offensive tackle to tight end for his senior season and Gunter opens the playoffs this week seeking a sixth straight state semifinal appearance and a chance at third title in that span.
Utah went 17-33 this past spring and 7-23 in Pac-12 action. The Utes were 6-7 during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season and last made the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
This article originally appeared on Herald Democrat: Gunter quartet headed to the next level for sports