Take a look at the prosper Rock Hill baseball team’s dugout. There, by its solitude, sits an indescribable, three-foot-long sledgehammer with tape dripping from the frame and pine tar around the top. The trademark still stands on it, but it is the only reminder that this worn-out, heavy-handed weapon of destruction was once new.
At first glance, the hammer looks like it does not belong, but see what happens when a Rock Hill player hits one of the many home races the team has had this year. It is picked up and placed near the team circle on the deck. The players gather around bouncing and hopping in harmony until the home run hitter picks it up, backwards and pounds it into the square, sending rubber pellets that fly.
“We’ve had a few judges ask us to quit,” Rock Hill chief Shaun Stanton said with a laugh.
In a way, the hammer is a representation of the Rock Hill program, which is in its first season as a new high school. Rock Hill plays in the regional quarterfinals this weekend against Lovejoy, a district opponent Rock Hill fell twice against this season.
Stanton, a longtime assistant at Prosper, brought the hammer to Rock Hill when he became the first baseball coach in the school’s history. At Prosper, the hammer was just a training tool. On Rock Hill, they have become a symbol of their “Blue Collar Mentality” or “BCM”, as they call it.
Like the hammer, the Rock Hill baseball team – a team that beat Frisco Liberty and WT White in the first two rounds of the mail season – can trace its origins back to Prosper ISD’s original high school. Rock Hill opened this fall and became the district’s second high school. This meant that the Rock Hills baseball program would take players from a program that has been one of the best in the state.
Prosper, who also played in the regional quarterfinals this weekend against Coppell, has made the record season each of the last 15 seasons. The Eagles won a state championship in 2015 under former head coach Rick Carpenter, who retired in 2019 after nearly 900 victories and 40 years of training, of which the last 12 came on Prosper.
A new high school meant that Rock Hill wanted to siphon talent from one of the best programs in Texas, but Stanton did not know exactly which players would make the transition from Prosper to Rock Hill. This summer he finally got to look at the list. The lack of university experience jumped out at him.
Coming to Rock Hill this season was a combined game of varsity experience and 16 bats in total.
“We did not know what to expect,” said senior Josh Livingston, a Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star who hits .441 with eight home runs. “You could not sit there and say ‘I do not expect to go to the playoffs’, or ‘I expect to go to the playoffs’, because it was so unknown. No one had any idea what was going to happen.”
Without much experience, Rock Hill started 0-2-2. Stanton said he asked his team not to let the Post define it.
“We do not want to peak right now,” he recalled, telling them. “We want to reach the top at the right time.”
Stanton’s team committed. That list without much experience showed what it could do when it finally got something. Junior Brenner Cox, a promise in Texas and the school’s starting quarterback, has seven home runs. He only had one varsity bat before this season. Junior Brett Foss is 9-1 this season on the mound – a big boost for a program that has been without the top three pitchers most of the season.
“As a team, I feel like we really got together and stepped up the last two weeks,” Cox said.
“I feel like we can go a long way.”
Long playoffs may not run in Rock Hill history, but they do in Prospers. These Rock Hill players grew up with these standards and expectations.
On Rock Hill, however, the Blue Hawks have carved out their own identity. The team has a hard hatred it is assigned to players who make key defensive players – another connection to “BCM.” After games, they always go to Whataburger. If there is no time conflict, they will look at the school’s softball team, which is also still alive during the post season.
“Being a first-year school, we have had to adapt, build a culture and start new traditions on the baseball field,” said Livingston.
“There has been a lot of learning and starting new things for the kids in the future to come by and hopefully take on the new tradition.”
They hope it will include many more home runs, and then many more turns of the blue collar hammer.
Rock Hill has won seven of its last 10 regular season games this season. Two of those losses came to Lovejoy, the regional quarterfinal opponent this weekend. Here you see the series plan.
Prosper Rock Hill (19-12-3) vs. Lovejoy (28-8)
Game 1: 7:30 Thursday at McKinney North
Game 2: dinner Saturday at McKinney North
Game 3 (if necessary): the following games 2