Coming out of Sedgwick, Brylie Ware had no Division I scholarship offers in baseball.
In the years since, Ware led the nation in batting average, home runs and RBIs, winning the NJCAA’s first Triple Crown since 1985 during his freshman season at Neosho, then transferred to Oklahoma, where he’s been a three-year starter and all-Big 12 performer.
Now a senior with a .297 batting average, the second-highest for a 28-14 OU team, Ware made his return to the area on Tuesday in the Sooners’ 9-4 win over Wichita State at Eck Stadium. He hopes his path can inspire other players not only from Sedgwick, but anyone from a small town in Kansas.
“I’ve always had to bring the mentality of ‘you’ve got to prove them wrong’ because you are a small-town Kansas kid,” said Ware, a two-time All-Metro selection. “That’s what I always tell kids from towns like Sedgwick, you have to prove everybody wrong. It’s not going to come easy.”
It’s that kind of attitude that has made him a favorite for OU coach Skip Johnson the past three years.
Ware hit .298 with five home runs and earned first-team all-Big 12 honors as a designated hitter as a sophomore, then followed that up by hitting .331 as a junior and earning second-team all-Big 12 honors. This season Ware has once again been a reliable bat in the middle of the Sooners’ lineup.
“He’s got a big heart and he plays with heart,” Johnson said. “When you play this game with the intangibles that he has, that’s what makes him so good. He plays with a big heart and he’s a big leader for this team. The younger kids really gravitate toward him.”
Ware admits he’s not a “rah-rah” leader, but he takes pride in his work, puts in the time at practice, and tries to lead by example.
After going undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft, Ware knows a major-league career might not happen. Maybe that changes after another solid hitting season with OU, but Ware is prepared if it doesn’t work out. He’s focused on improving his academics to become a well-rounded student-athlete.
“This is my last year in college, so I’ve been relaxed and trying to have fun with everything and just enjoy my last ride,” Ware said. “I try to preach to the other guys about taking it one pitch at a time. We have to stick to who we are. We can’t get caught up in playing against the other team, we’re playing against the ball. And then just have fun. It’s a game for a reason.”
Johnson was more than happy to return to Wichita again this season. Not only do the Sooners pick up a quality RPI game against WSU, but Ware also got to play in front of around 50 friends, family and church members from Sedgwick and picked up a hit and scored a run.
“He’s been one of our team captains the last three years, so it was pretty special to see him kind of get a send-off here,” Johnson said. “Kudos to him and what he’s accomplished. He’s a great player, but he’s an even better young man and that’s what’s awesome about him.”
“This is the last time I’m playing here at Wichita State, so to see that many people out here supporting me was really cool and kind of surreal,” Ware said. “It shows me no matter what, I’m loved.”