EDMOND — Entering his senior season, Deer Creek's Michael Fulmer was already known as one of the best pitchers in the state.
That wasn't enough. The Antlers were one game away from making the Class 5A state championship game in his junior year, and Fulmer was going to do everything in his power to make sure the team didn't fall short.
For Fulmer, that meant playing every day as a pitcher or third baseman and becoming a disciplined hitter.
Hitting had never been in Fulmer's repertoire before. He said he had an estimated 17 plate appearances in his sophomore and junior years combined.
With so many seniors departing from the 2010 team, Fulmer said he realized playing once every three or four days wasn't going to cut it.
“I told him he can be a better pitcher if he plays every day at third base,” coach Ron Moore said. “He agreed, and he went to work.”
And when Fulmer works at something, success is almost guaranteed. It didn't hurt to have someone like shortstop Brian Anderson there to help.
Fulmer and Anderson have been friends for a long time, and both Antler stars have signed to play at Arkansas.
Working in tandem on the left side of the infield, the chemistry was there. And at the plate, it was Anderson who helped Fulmer in his approach.
“He was a big influence on my hitting this year,” Fulmer said. “He taught me to stay back. Before, I was always looking to hit a home run. I was more patient this year.”
Fulmer hit .436 with six home runs and drove in 43 runs. His quest to become an all-around player was complete because his brilliance on the mound is why he is The Oklahoman's Big All-City Baseball Player of the Year.
Called in against all the top opponents, Fulmer went 10-2 with a minuscule 0.72 ERA. He had 127 strikeouts in 68 innings.
His arm gets all the attention, but Fulmer said the biggest difference this season was in his legs. He's grown more than five inches in his time at Deer Creek, but he hadn't put on any weight. He put on 20 pounds going into this year.
“He became a better athlete,” Moore said. “He worked really hard in the weight room and with his agility.”
Fulmer was destined to be a Razorback, but his performances have made him a name to watch in Monday's MLB Draft.
Fulmer said it's always been his dream to play professional baseball, but he has no idea about what he's going to do when selected. He said he's just enjoying the ride.
No matter what Fulmer chooses to do, Moore knows Fulmer will be able to handle what comes his way.
“Mentally he's mature enough to do whatever he wants to do,” Moore said. “If he wants to go professional, he can hang with the 24-26-year-old guys out there.
“And if he chooses to go to Arkansas, I truly believe he'll be one of the three arms in their rotation. He's going to be a big-time contributor one way or another.”