This past Wednesday was national fall signing day for colleges and universities around the country and Keatch Ballard, a Silo graduate, took advantage of the early signing as he signed his letter of intent to play for Sunny Golloway and the Oklahoma Sooner baseball team beginning in the fall of 2013. He was one of thirteen fall signees for the Sooners.
“It feels great,” said Ballard after signing the letter of intent at Murray State College this past Wednesday. “It has been a lifelong goal, to play Division I baseball. I also have as a goal to be drafted by a major league team and eventually play in the majors. I have felt this way ever since my dad told me about his baseball career. He played at Arkansas.”
Coach Zach Crabtree and Ballard both felt that he (Ballard) is only the third Bryan County baseball player to go to a Division I school, joining Durant’s Max White, currently at OU, and Matt Cartwright of Rock Creek High School, who went to Morehead State University.
There were numerous schools who courted Ballard to sign including North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin and University of Texas at San Antonio.
“I took a visit to OSU,” said Ballard. “But I really felt that I fit in better at OU. I felt more at home there and I like their coaches. Coach Golloway fits the style that I like. He coaches with a lot of intensity and just wants to win. I know some of the guys on the team and played against a lot of them.”
Ballard has played shortstop most of his baseball career and he bats left handed, a very unusual combination, fielding and throwing right handed and batting left handed. He has had some great offensive numbers in high school and last year at Murray State College under Zach Crabtree. His bio listed on the University of Oklahoma website lists the following:
• Hit .370 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs and earned all-conference and all-region honors in 2012 at Murray StateCollege.
• Helped lead Silo High School to three straight state championships under head coach Billy Jack Bowen.
• Earned honorable mention all-state honors in 2010 in addition to three straight all-district selections.
• Hit .455 with 14 homers for his prep career.
• Placed 10th at the state golf championship in 2007.
• Son of Keach and Marlia Ballard. Father played baseball at Arkansas. Ballard will be a redshirt junior when he reports to Oklahoma University next year. He had redshirted his first year at Grayson College. After this season at Murray State College, Ballard will have three Associate Degrees and he plans on studying Sports Science at OU.
“My real goal is to get drafted and eventually play in the majors,” said Ballard. “I plan on playing shortstop at OU. Playing at a DI school is the best way to get to the majors. I was asked to sign a letter of intent this past summer and begin attending OU this fall. We started the process but there was a problem with the transcript from Silo High School. By the time it got corrected, it caused the NCAA to question everything and then I didn’t have enough time.”
Mike Palmer, principal of Silo High school said that the problem was in a wording of a course and that they wrote letters and tried to convince the NCAA that everything was correct, but they just couldn’t convince them in time.
Ballard went on to talk about his dad who has been a big influence on his life.
“My dad is real proud of me,” said Ballard. “Ever since he told me of his baseball career at Arkansas I have wanted to play in a Division I school and to be drafted and play in the majors. He has attended every game of mine that he could make. He took some vacation days to get to some of them.”
Ballard will play his second season at Murray State College in Tishomingo after being part of a very successful team last year which went 42-13 in Coach Zach Crabtree’s second season. Crabtree had some very nice things to say about Ballard.
“He is a smart hitter who really understands the situation”, said Crabtree. “He has good hands and bat speed and can really handle the bat. He competes very well. Keatch took advantage of redshirting. He worked hard and defensively and made himself into a really good shortstop.
“Coach Gollaway (the OU Coach) watched a few games and Golloway trusted my judgment when I told them that Keatch could be a starter for them. He worked hard and has really improved. This is where he always wanted to go.”
Ballard’s father, Keatch Ballard said that they don’t refer to his son as a junior, “I just call him Keatchie”, said the father.
“I’m proud for him,” said Keatch, the father. “God blessed him with some talent and he has worked really hard to get where he is. He made the best out of redshirting at Grayson. It worked well for him.”
On a personal note, Keatch the father agreed that they were very close. He also agreed that OU was a good fit for “Keatchie”.