Antlers Baseball Peaking Heading Into Postseason Play

Jackson Hill, Photo Courtesy: Deer Creek Baseball

Like every other team in the state, Deer Creek missed the opportunity to have a high school baseball season last year due to COVID-19. The Antlers are making up for lost time this year, as they’re one of the favorites to win the 6A title.

“We’ve all had one goal in mind and that’s to win a state championship,” stated senior center fielder Ty Hammack.

This appears to be Deer Creek’s best chance to win its first state baseball championship. The Antlers finished the regular season with an impressive 31-3 record and ranked number one in Class 6A. The 2016 team advanced to the title game before falling 2-0 to Edmond Memorial.

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“We have a good mix of senior leaders who have a lot of experience,” claimed Deer Creek head coach Roland Baza. “We mix that in with good junior and sophomore classes as well. We’ve also been able to be pretty dominant on the mound this year, which has helped.”

To say Deer Creek has a deep pitching staff would be an understatement. The Antlers have multiple hurlers on their roster who have committed to playing college ball. Keaton Ruthardt, Jackson Hill, Brett Pence, Cody Sorrels and Brady Hamilton have all shined on the mound. In late innings, they’ve got the luxury of having two Division I signees in the bullpen in junior Keaton Story (Wichita State) and sophomore Nate Rogalski (Oklahoma State).

Ty Hammack, Deer Creek Baseball
Ty Hammack, Photo Courtesy: Deer Creek Baseball

“We’ve been really blessed this year on the mound,” admitted Baza. “The last time we were this deep with arms was probably our 2016 team. We have a lot of confidence in those guys.”

Deer Creek has been no slouch at the plate, either. Led by Hammack, who is set to play at Cowley County Community College next season, the Antlers have used a steady diet of timely hitting and power hitting from the heart of its lineup to score runs.

“We’re pretty solid one through nine in our lineup,” said Hammack, who leads the Antlers in nearly every offensive category this season. “Everybody has had quality at-bats this year. We don’t strike out much. That’s obviously huge. We’ve got a team full of athletes.”

“He’s been the guy for us in big moments,” said Baza on Hammack, who hit key home runs in wins over Southmoore and Stillwater. “He always seems to find his way to the plate. He’s really taken advantage of it this year.”

Keaton Ruthardt, Deer Creek Baseball
Keaton Ruthardt, Photo Courtesy: Deer Creek Baseball

Even with a roster top to bottom with talent, winning a state championship in Class 6A is no easy task.

“6A baseball is definitely the deepest,” stated Baza. “Anybody, any day, if you don’t show up to play, can take one from you. Every team, even the number two or three teams in your regional, are going to have one or two big arms. It’s not like you can just show up and win a championship.”

The Antlers know they have a big target on their backs heading into the final two weeks of the season.

“We have a lot of confidence, but we understand that the closer you get, every game is going to be a big game,” remarked Baza. “You can’t have a day off. That’s been the biggest thing, just keeping our guys locked in for these last two weeks.”

“I think we just have to play our baseball,” added Hammack, “and do what we’ve been doing all year. We’ve got a really good shot at it. We’ll see how far it can take us.”