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Ponca City Area

Tonkawa’s Luke Shepherd – Character Counts – Presented by Gateway First Bank

By John Tranchina

Luke Shepherd is only a freshman but he’s already become known for being a key player and somewhat of a team leader for Tonkawa’s baseball squad. 

Shepherd, who usually serves as the Buccaneers’ designated hitter and sometimes fills in at first base in the field, has just kind of taken it upon himself to display some leadership on the team.

“It just kind of feels natural,” said Shepherd, who also plays football and competes in wrestling at Tonkawa. “I just try to keep my teammates’ heads up when they’re down, when they make an error or something, just try to keep them going and not make another one.”

Shepherd has been playing baseball since he was a little kid and developed an immediate love for the game. And even as he has participated in other sports, including helping the Tonkawa football team go 9-3 and advance to the Class A second playoff round last fall, baseball has always remained his favorite sport.

“The competition just seems a little more fun,” Shepherd said of baseball. “I just like it.” 

He tries to model his game after Los Angeles Angels superstar center fielder Mike Trout, a prolific power hitter, noting, “I try to hit a lot of home runs.”

It’s something he works hard on trying to improve at, putting in extra practice time when possible.

“I just go to the cages whenever we don’t have a game that day with some friends,” Shepherd said. 

As for this season, Shepherd hopes the Buccaneers have turned their season around. Following a tough stretch in with they went 2-8 over a stretch of 10 games, Tonkawa was 3-1 in their next four, sporting a 7-10 record overall heading into a double-header Apr. 15 against Nowata.

“We started off kind of slow but we’re picking it back up,” Shepherd said.  

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