OKEECHOBEE — Their uniform colors feature purple, gold and grey, but for Tribal members on the Okeechobee High baseball team it was sort of a black-and-blue season.
Injuries suffered from separate off-the-field mishaps sidelined junior pitcher Sean Osceola and his cousin Ozzy Osceola, a freshman outfielder, for a portion of the season. During the season, Sean was injured in a car accident and Ozzy was hurt in a 4-wheeler wreck.
“We just can’t stay out of getting hurt,” Sean Osceola said as he prepared for the team’s final regular season game April 28 at Centennial High School in Fort Pierce. In fact, Osceola started on the mound in that game and was struck by a line drive. He was shaken up, but remained on the hill and pitched the three innings he was scheduled to throw.
This season Osceola also played first and third base and batted out of the Nos. 3 or 4 spot with an average around .270, but it’s on the mound where the right-hander is counted on most heavily. He registered 10 strikeouts in one game this season and nine in another.
“My velocity has been pretty good, around 86 or 88. My command, I’ve been having a little bit of issues spotting up, but it’s been all right for the most part,” he said.
“Sean has had some troubles with injuries this year on and off the field,” said Okeechobee coach Eric Kindell. “It’s important for him to do well for our program to succeed. He plays a big role pitching and playing third base. Great kid, hard worker.”
Kindell also applied those hard-working sentiments to Ozzy Osceola and the third Tribal member of the team, senior left fielder Trevor Thomas.
“Trevor is a sparkplug,” Kindell said. “He’s a guy who wears his emotions on his shoulders. He’s getting after it every day. I’ve enjoyed being his coach for four years. He’s a great kid. His parents should be very proud the way they raised him. He will be missed when he leaves. He’s a great guy to have around.”
After a fast start at the plate – he was batting about .500 through the first four games in the leadoff spot – Thomas said his bat cooled off a bit.
“It’s not the season I wanted to have, but it’s not a bad season,” he said, estimating that his average was about .250 “I’d like be hitting a little higher, but defensively I’ve been doing all right.”
Thomas was among a half-dozen seniors on the team this season.
“Guys I played with, I love them to death. They’re like family,” he said.
While Thomas finished his final season with Okeechobee with hopes of playing college ball, the high school career of Ozzy Osceola is just getting underway. Thomas and Osceola played in the outfield at the same time for a handful of games.
“Before he got hurt, he was doing great,” Thomas said. “We lost Alex Lopez out in right field, and Ozzy filled in for him and was doing a great job. He was living up to his potential at the plate and was hitting the ball good, and then he had an accident.”
It took less than a season for Kindell to realize that Osceola has the character to bounce back.
“The guy has a lot of grit,” Kindell said. “Great kid and very respectful to the coaches and to his teammates. He gives you everything he’s got. He’s a true bulldog. He’s got a little something you can’t teach. It’s been nice having him.”
Okeechobee defeated Martin County, 7-4, in a Class 7A-District 13 semifinal as Ozzy Osceola provided a glimpse of a bright future with a 2-for-3 day at the plate that included a double and two RBIs. Okeechobee fell to Jensen Beach, 2-1, in the district championship. Thomas had one of the team’s only two hits and Sean Osceola delivered the team’s lone RBI.
The Brahmans season ended with a loss to Dwyer in the 7A regional quarterfinals. Thomas and Sean Osceola accounted for two of the team’s five hits.