It was the great experiment. Last year when Team Florida was forced to drop out of the Sunbelt Classic, tournament officials decided to replace them with a scrappy group of juniors from Oklahoma.

While the local Oklahomans had potential and talent, they were not ready for the prime time stage of playing against some of the country’s top players as they finished with a subpar record.

However, four of those same players return this year as seniors on Team Oklahoma. They include Tulsa Memorial’s Jared Graham, Valliant’s Jordan Mings and twin brothers from Moore, Chris and Jeff Hinckley. And they bring with them the experience and confidence from last year.

“Over a year you get older, stronger a little bit faster,” Jeff Hinckley said. “You can compete with these guys a little bit better. Last year’s juniors we felt like we might not have belonged. But this year as seniors you believe you belong and can compete with this guys at the same level.”

The players admit that they may not have been ready for what to expect.

“We are just more mature about everything,” Chris Hinckley said. “Another year of baseball helped leaps and bounds. Being out there another year on the field helps a lot. As juniors we had little in experience. We hadn’t seen the pitching maybe as much as we were ready for. But now that we are seniors we have seen the pitching and are ready to play.”

But the experience they gathered during last year’s tournament did more for them than just preparation for this year’s Classic. It highlighted the areas they needed to work on during the senior campaigns.

“It helped us a ton,” Chris Hinckley said. “The pitching you face... it helps you so much. The speed and the curveball, The offspeed are a lot better. It helps you as a hitter just adjust and you can adjust better to the faster pitching. It helped tremendously.”

Both Chris and Jeff Hinckley signed with Neosho Community College in Chanute, Kansas. They hope to head off to start their college careers with a Sunbelt title.

“Hopefully we can come out here and end on a winning note,” Jeff Hinckley said. “Last year we didn’t end on a very good note. We like to think we play the highest level of baseball up here in Moore Norman. Show these guys we can play just as good or better. There are some guys from Norman too. So hopefully we can have a good showing and show these guys how to play.”

“We are looking to win it,” Chris Hinckley said. “We think we have the talent. We may not be the biggest team, but I think we are going to surprise some people with how good we can play ball.”

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