Oklahoma Christian School baseball players coined the phrase, “Why not us?” this season while hoping to make what was believed to be an improbable run to the state tournament.
After leading the football team to the Class 2A championship, OCS senior Austin Brooks turned that improbable into reality Sunday.
In his biggest performance of the season, Brooks threw a complete-game against Chandler that featured 13 strikeouts, three of which came in the seventh with the tying run on third to clinch OCS' first state baseball tournament appearance in school history.
OCS opens play in the Class 3A tournament Thursday at 11 a.m. against Verdigris at Deer Creek.
“Throwing three picks in that final game in the first half, that will really help you dealing with pressure and hard situations,” Brooks said. “Out there on the mound I can really relate to that getting into these tough, tight games.”
In turn, he has consistently delivered this season.
He's 8-2 with two saves, a 2.08 ERA and 103 strikeouts in nearly 61 innings this season, while hitting .505 with six home runs and 34 RBIs.
But perhaps his lessons learned on the football field have been the most beneficial.
“He developed that in football and a good sign of that was when we gave him the ball against Chandler to win regionals,” first-year OCS coach Ken McQueen said. “You could see the expression on his face that he saw that in football in the fall and he did that in the fourth quarter, and you could see that come out right there.
“He just took control of the game right there.”
Much like he has done during his high school career, Brooks just leads.
And with his leadership and the veteran guidance of McQueen, the Saints have flourished this season despite a rocky schedule featuring many teams in higher classes.
“The kids found out that we were just like them,” McQueen said. “We competed and we didn't win a lot of ballgames, but the thing is the kids got a lot of experience.
“Through that and a slow maturation process, we've accomplished what we're doing right now.”
For Brooks, he feels this was a long time coming as he's watched his teams fall short of the state tournament the past three years despite having the necessary talent.
And much like his football experience, he won't take this weekend for granted.
“We're going in and going to play as hard as we can and see what we can do,” Brooks said. “We've never been here before, so we'll see what happens.”