Going into the season, the common term around the Yukon baseball program was “youth”.
The Millers had graduated the majority of their production in the field, at the plate and on the mound that they relied on in 2016.
Not many people expected Yukon to contend for a district championship, host a regional, win the regional tournament and go to the state tournament in 2017. They were all wrong.
Yukon finished the year with a 28-10 overall record and won the district championship and earned the right to host a regional. The Millers won all three games of their regional and clinched a spot in the 6A state baseball tournament.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my guys and the way they battled every day,” Yukon head coach Kevin James said. “We played a really tough schedule and I believe that helped us a lot down the stretch. To win 28 games with the schedule we played, shows how much heart these guys have.”
In the first-round of the state tournament, the Millers took on east-side power Jenks and run-ruled the Trojans in six innings 11-1 behind a stellar performance by senior Cross Factor on the mound and at the plate.
The quarterfinal round win over Jenks propelled Yukon into the semifinal round of the state tournament, where they faced their archrival Mustang this past Friday at Choctaw High School. The Broncos advanced to the semis with a stunning 3-0 upset over No. 1 ranked Owasso in the quarterfinals.
It had been since 2013 since a Mustang baseball team had beat Yukon on the diamond. The game was scoreless through the first three innings but the Broncos broke through on a Miller error in the fourth to take the first lead over Yukon.
Mustang tacked on three more runs in the next couple of innings off of several Yukon mistakes. The Millers threatened to have big scoring innings themselves several times throughout the ballgame but they could never get the big hit they needed to take the game over. The Broncos went on to secure a spot in the 6A state title game with a 4-1 win over YHS.
“Of course, you look back on that game and you think about some of the things that could have gone our way but they didn’t,” James said. “That’s baseball. We played hard but we just made a few mistakes that ended up costing us in the semis. Give credit to Mustang. They played a solid game against us.”
Here are the fielding percentages for each Miller player on the varsity roster in 2017:
Adam Sanderson, Caleb Olson, Chandler Rich, Jack Pritchard and Karsen Little all had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Payton Miller had a .970 FP, Nollan Koon came in with a .956, Braylen Wimmer finished the season with a FP of .941, Brayden Alberson had a FP of .930, Joey Eggler finished 2017 with a .921 FP, Dakota Ward had a .920, Dalton DeBaud had a .893, BJ Lee finished with a .889, Cross Factor had a .866, Zach Arnold had a .853, Connor Phinney finished with a .846 and Caleb Hernandez totaled a .800 fielding percentage.
Yukon’s top five hitters were Cross Factor with an average of .440, 51 hits, nine home runs and 54 RBIs; Payton Miller with an average of .447, 46 hits, three home runs and 39 RBIs; Nollan Koon with an average of .414, 60 hits, one home run and 25 RBIs; Joey Eggler had an average of .383, 41 hits, one home run and 22 RBIs and Brayden Alberson finished with an average of .338, 23 hits and 15 RBIs.
On the mound, the Millers were led by Brayden Alberson, who had a record of 5-0 with an ERA of 1.5; Connor Phinney finished the season with a 5-2 mark and an ERA of 3.0; Cross Factor was 4-0 in 2017 with an ERA of 1.5’ Dakota Ward was 4-3 overall with an ERA of 1.6 and BJ Lee had a record of 3-1 with an ERA of 1.2.