High school baseball: Norman High, Norman North to meet in regional semifinal

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Norman High's Cade Horton pitches during the Tigers' game against Mustang on Wednesday at Tull Lake Field. NHS won 6-4 and advanced to the regional semifinals against Norman North, which beat Putnam City 5-0.

NORMAN — Before Cade Horton graduates from Norman High on Friday, he had one more award to collect.

The soon-to-be NHS alumnus was named the 2019-20 Gatorade Oklahoma Baseball Player of the Year. He’s the first Tiger player ever to receive the Gatorade-sponsored accolade, which is in its 35th year of recognizing high school's best student-athletes.

“It means a lot, just with everything that's going on,” said Horton, an OU baseball and football signee who is now eligible to win Gatorade's National Baseball Player of the Year honor.

“It's a very prestigious award and I'm honored to be able to win it. I wouldn't have done it without everybody that's been there by me since I was a little; my parents, all the coaches I've had and all the teammates I've been with. They played a big role in it.”

The Tigers played only five games this past season with the coronavirus pandemic canceling most of Horton’s senior campaign. He still put together a few highlights to cap his final year of high school.

Horton participated in the Perfect Game All-American game last August before becoming an Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State football selection as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.

After throwing for 3,084 yards, rushing for 1,149 yards and scoring 41 total touchdowns, he signed to play both baseball and football at the University of Oklahoma in December.

The 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher and shortstop then went 1-0 for the Tigers on the mound and finished the Tigers’ shortened season with a .375 batting average and six RBIs.

“He is obviously gifted and able to do things other high school players cannot,” NHS coach Cody Merrell said in a release. “As a pitcher, he can throw in by any batter. Defensively, he has unbelievable range and the ability to make plays that will make you shake your head in amazement.”

Horton boasted a .420 batting average through his high school career. He also had 140 hits, 128 runs, 87 RBIs and 34 doubles.

While the 18-year-old Horton is signed to further his athletic career at his hometown university, the NHS product’s plans are subject to change depending on how this summer unfolds.

Horton is the No. 47-ranked prospect in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft class, according to MLB.com. And Mike Rosenbaum, an MLB.com writer, lists Horton as one of the 10 best two-players among all prospects.

The NHS standout is comfortable with both pitching and playing shortstop at the next level, whether that be college or professional baseball.

“Honestly, I feel like one team will give me an opportunity to either do both or they'll choose me to do one for them, but I don't see myself [leaning] either way,” Horton said. “I’ve done it my whole life. Pitching and playing shortstop has come natural to me, that's all I know. I don't know any different.”

Earlier this month, Horton told The Transcript he’s open to forgoing his OU baseball and football career if he's presented with a favorable opportunity in the MLB draft.

If Horton chooses to play professional baseball, he will follow in the footsteps of fellow NHS products Jake Jewell, who was drafted in 2014 and plays for the San Francisco Giants, and Daniel McCutchen, who had stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers from 2009-14.

Joe Buettner

405-366-3557

Follow me @ByJoeBuettner

jbuettner@normantranscript.com

 

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