When his son was 10, Mike Hensley could tell there was something different about his son, Ty.
“That's about when the lightbulb went on for him,” Mike Hensley said. “He really started to dedicate himself to trying to build arm strength and dedicating himself to a throwing program as well as working on the offensive side of it.”
Eight years later, the talent is unquestionably there and the work ethic has remained constant.
Thursday, the big right-hander leads Edmond Santa Fe into the Class 6A state baseball tournament, when he'll start on the mound against Stillwater at 6:30 p.m. at Claremore.
Mike Hensley knows plenty about baseball at every level.
He starred at Latta High, where he was The Oklahoman's All-State Player of the Year in 1985. At Oklahoma, where he played form 1986-88, he was a first-team All-Big Eight pick and a preseason first-team All-American in 1988.
He was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 1988 draft, going on to play three seasons in the minors before arm injuries shortened his career.
Hensley then went on to a long run as the pitching coach at Kansas State.
It was during that time that he figured his oldest son had something special.
From watching T.Y. — that's what Mike calls his son — throw the ball, he knew the arm was there.
What he wasn't sure about is if the work ethic to take full advantage would follow.
“If the tough part's out of the way, if you have the talent and have the ability, don't you deserve to put in everything you've got and work as hard as you possibly can to bring those talents to the forefront?” Mike told his son.
This week's tournament figures to be a prelude to next month's MLB First-Year Player Draft, where Hensley is expected to go anywhere from high in the first to early in the second round.
Still, Hensley remains focused on finishing off his season with the Wolves before entertaining many thoughts of the draft.
“I'm sure there's going to be a lot of adrenaline going, just like there always is,” Ty Hensley said. “Every year, I've seen us fall short and fall short. This time around, we've got to get it done.”
Hensley's status as the state's top player and one of the top high school players in the nation was set before late last summer.
Neither he nor Mike were satisfied, though.
They made a decision to change some mechanics, hoping to make him even more effective.
The move didn't pay off immediately.
But as he's become more comfortable with the new mechanics, they've made more and more sense.
His fastball tops out in the mid 90s and sits above 90 mph, his curveball is a pitch Edmond Santa Fe coach Lonny Cobble calls “deadly” and then there's the changeup.
The pitch wasn't a big part of Hensley's repertoire last season.
“I didn't throw it much because it was high school, why let somebody speed their bat up?” Hensley said. “I had a really good feeling for it when I was a sophomore, then I kind of lost it last year.
“But it's really improved this year and I”m using it to keep hitters off-balance.”
The pitch has made some hitters, waiting for that fastball, look silly.
“I've seen guys get up there guessing and miss it by two or three feet,” Cobble said.
Going into the game against Stillwater, Hensley is 9-0 with a 1.59 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 22 hits in 48 1/3 innings pitched.
This week is just another step on the path that Hensley started when he made the choice — at 10 — to go all-in on baseball.
“I love it,” Hensley said of the state tournament atmosphere. “Something weird about me, whenever there's a big stage, usually for the most part I rise up to it because I feel like that's where I belong. That's where I should be and when I'm in that situation I feel like I need to succeed and I usually do.”