Photo Credit: 
Debi DeSilver | For The Chronicle
WATCHFUL EYE: Elgin Baseball Head Coach Levi Garrett looks down the third baseline towards home plate at a recent game with MacArthur Highlanders. A championship baseball player himself, he is passionate about teaching the skills to young athletes and is proud of the facilities and field the Booster Club provided for the team
WATCHFUL EYE: Elgin Baseball Head Coach Levi Garrett looks down the third baseline towards home plate at a recent game with MacArthur Highlanders. A championship baseball player himself, he is passionate about teaching the skills to young athletes and is proud of the facilities and field the Booster Club provided for the team

On a recent Spring evening, vehicles crowded around Martin Field located at the end of Mighty Owl Ave. The sun was out, the temperature was just right and the bleachers were filled with cheering baseball fans. It was a nice contrast compared to the 2020 season when a global pandemic had shuttered the school and the stands were empty. Prior to Spring Break, the baseball team had been off to a good start with five or six wins and just one loss when the eerie silence blanketed communities and everyone was urged to stay home.

A year later, opening day came not a moment too soon and Martin Field sprang to life again. The Owls were back and ready to play ball. And, Spring 2021 was off to a good start. Standing near third base, facing the batter’s box, was Elgin Baseball Head Coach Levi Garrett. Sometimes he stood with his arms folded; sometimes flashing numbers with his fingers. At the time, he had a stern look on his face. He had just huddled his players to find out why a play wasn’t executed to the Owls’ advantage. Garrett loves baseball and he is competitive and wants to win. He wants fun, but he also wants championships.

“Baseball has been a part of my life from as early as I can remember,” Garrett said. “My dad put a T-ball and bat in my hands when I was three or four years old. Dad played slow pitch softball and also baseball in high school.”

Garrett grew up in Gracemont, the son of Larry and Martha Garrett. In eighth grade, Garrett began attending the Lookeba-Sickles school district. Baseball was still his focus and he played many positions, including pitcher and catcher. When asked his favorite position, he chuckled and said, “Hitting ... if I was hitting, I was happy.” His senior year of high school culminated with being named to one of the Oklahoma Coaches’ Association (OCA) All-State Teams in June 2002. In all, Garrett had played in eight state tournaments in high school, which included three state championships and one runner-up finish at Lookeba-Sickles. He went on to play college ball at Western Oklahoma State in Altus during 2003 and 2004, and then with Southwest Oklahoma State University in Weatherford during 2005 and 2006.

When Garrett was hired in Elgin in 2009, the Owls baseball team hadn’t seen a state championship team in 49 years. They had won the fall title in 1969. Garrett was ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work building a championship baseball program, which first began with the field and facilities.

“The Booster Club has spent thousands of dollars doing upgrades,” Garrett said. “We removed sod, leveled the ground and re-sodded. Bleachers and new fencing were put in, along with a new backstop, scoreboard, press box, lighting and storage shed. It’s now an amazing facility. The baseball field itself is beautiful. We have beautiful uniforms. We just went to work to rebuild the brand.”

Garrett also set to work to share his competitive spirit and championship goals with his teams. In 2018, after nine years of coaching, Elgin won the Class 4A State Championship and Garrett was named The Oklahoman’s All-State Coach of the Year.

The 2018 team, however, wasn’t the first to enjoy post-season playoff success. In 2014, Elgin earned their first district title and went to the state tournament. The 2017 Owls made a trip to regional tournament action, where their season ended. After the 2018 team won it all in a nail-biter game against Blanchard that went to the last out, the 2019 team had a promising start but was eliminated by Blanchard in regional tournament play. In 2020, COVID-19 pitched a no-hitter and wiped the season out before it barely got going.

At press time, the 2021 Owls are playing district games with Newcastle after coming off a third place finish in the Bo Bowman Invitational Tournament April 1-3 in Lawton. The OSSAA Week 5 Rankings showed Elgin in third place in the 4A-1 Division, behind Tuttle and Marlow and just ahead of Newcastle. The rankings, at press time, had the Owls’ win/loss record at 15-7 and Newcastle’s at 12-4. Next up for Elgin is the Duncan SOI Tournament to be held April 8-10 and then at Chickasha on Monday, April 12. Coaching baseball is a fun and rewarding journey, Garrett said. “Yes, 2018 was the icing on the cake. I’m a competitive person and I want to be the best.” His philosophy: Fear no one. “I tell the players to put on their cleats and try to beat them.”

Garrett is passionate about baseball. “I love teaching the game to the kids. I’ve put my heart and soul into this and want to leave my mark in Elgin.” And, there are still more goals on Garrett’s list, including the baseball hall of fame.

“I’m still chasing it,” he said. “Someday I hope my peers see fit to nominate me. And, a few more championships will be nice, too.”