Prep Baseball Report

OK High School Preseason Spotlight: Deer Creek

Diego Solares
Staff Writer

The Oklahoma high school baseball season kicks off on March 2nd, opening day for regular season action under Ossaa regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown through the official PBR Oklahoma Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.

If you would like your team covered, please have your head coach email us at [email protected]

Our 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Deer Creek
OSSAA Class: 6A
Head Coach: Roland Baza
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 5


Ty Hammack, OF, 2021, Cowley County CC commit 

Returning to man center field for this Deer Creek squad is Hammack, a 6.60 runner in the 60-yard dash and legitimately one of the top athletes in the state each time he steps onto a baseball field. He’s going to captain this outfield and be a major offensive producer for this team, especially on the basepaths, where his speed plays an impact role. A former PBR Future Games participant, Hammack is committed to Cowley County.

Jackson Hill, C/1B/RHP, 2021, Dodge City CC commit

Standing at a physical 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, Hill is currently slated to be a major all-around contributor for this Deer Creek squad. He’s expected to carry a major role in this offense, where his strong right-handed stroke can play as a thumper-type run producer. He’ll also toe the rubber occasionally, currently slated to be one of head coach Roland Baza’s most reliable rotation arms. Deer Creek is going to need Hill to rise to the occasion and perform valiantly if they want a shot at the 6A state title. 

Bryce Logan, SS, 2021, Hutchinson CC commit

Another PBR Future Gamer for Deer Creek, Logan is a returning three-year starter that’s eager to put the finishing touches on his successful prep career. He’ll enter his final season with 99 career hits despite missing his entire junior season and also owns the school’s single-season stolen base record - a mark he’ll look to break again this spring. He’s the perfect leadoff hitter for this team because of his high contact skills, but Logan also plays superior defense at the diamond’s most important position. He’s unquestionably an integral piece to this team.

Zandt Payne, 3B, 2021, Dodge City CC commit 

Payne will join Logan on the left side of this infield, forming one of the more formidable infield combinations across Oklahoma. He’s added significant strength over the off-season and we’re eager to see how that strength translates to his offensive game. A switch-hitter, Payne gives Deer Creek much-needed versatility at the top of their lineup, as well as experience. 

Keaton Ruthardt, RHP, 2021, Cowley CC commit

Ruthardt is the name-to-know in this pitching rotation as the team’s presumed staff ace. Built at an athletic and projectable 6-foot-3, 175-pounds, Ruthardt’s fastball velocity is trending in the right direction. He touched 88 mph at one of our events last June and there’s certainly room for more in the tank. The feel he has to keep hitters off balance with his off-speed pitches is impressive as well. Ruthardt should also get some at-bats this season in the designated hitter role. He’ll lead this young staff and serve as Deer Creek’s anchor in his final high school season. 

Keaton Story, RHP, 2022, Wichita State commit

The recent Wichita State commit has made huge strides in recent months, most notably getting up to 90 mph at the OK Preseason All-State, pounding the zone with his fastball and curveball. Story has a projectable frame with a quick arm that should continue to put on velo. The right-hander will help to lead one of best staffs in the state. 

Nathan Rogalski, LHP, 2023, Oklahoma State commit

The Oklahoma State commits has a physically advanced and broad shouldered frame that is easy to project. The left-hander showed off some added velo at the OK Preseason All-State Showcase ranging 85-88 mph with some hop through the zone. His curveball shows tight downer action in the low 70s that will induce swings and misses. One of the top young arms in the state, if Rogalski finds his grove, the Deer Creek staff will have impressive depth. 

 Duncan Key, C, 2022

With all of the elite arms, including one who catches too, The antlers will lean heavily on one of the states top defensive catchers in 2022 Duncan Key. Key shows advanced receiving with an electric arm behind the plate that should be able to keep most run games in check. Offensively, Key will also make an immediate impact in the lineup providing some sneaky juice to go along with speed on the bases.  

Taylor Tomlin, OF, 2023

The speedy sophomore will have a real chance to start for the Antlers this year. The right-handed hitter knows who he is a the plate, spraying the balls to all fields and causing havoc on the bases with his quick first step and speed. Tomlin also shows advanced feel patrolling the outfield. 

Luke Schimmels, OF/RHP, 2023

Yet another one of the top prospects in OK's 2023 class, Luke Schimmels will likely contribute on both sides of the ball this year. On the mound, the right-hander will range from 80-83 and touch some higher velos at times, but his real weapon is a devastating slider breaking ball at 72-74 that he commands for strikes. Offensively, the right-handed bat has some thunder in it and will an extra bases threat every time he steps to the dish. 

Cody Sorrels, 3B/RHP, 2022

Sorrels has made big jumps as a position player who can really run, adding to Deer Creeks team speed, and on the mound, where his was up to 83 this fall. Look for Sorrells to be a key role player for the Antlers with a chance to make impacts on both sides of the ball. 

William Brady Hamilton, RHP/C, 2023

With two of the best catchers in the state in front of him Hamilton will likely have to wait for his time behind the dish, but his recent performance on the mound reaching up to 85 may allow him to eat some innings this year for the Antlers. A young prospect to keep an eye on for sure. 


STRENGTHS: There are several different strengths for this Deer Creek squad. Their pitching staff, led by Ruthardt, is a talented bunch eager to make an impact. The experience they have in this lineup paired up with their all-around athleticism should play an integral role for this offense. 

AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: “We have many first-year varsity starters that will be counted on in big ways this year.”

Make sure to follow @PBR_Oklahoma on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.