Sulphur — When Cedar Creek began packing for the trip to the state tournament in Sulphur, coach Ben Haddox was sure to bring along one memento.
Haddox hadn’t worn the ring he won as the shortstop on Cedar Creek’s 2000 state championship team in a long time, but he wanted his players to see what was at stake over the weekend. Before leaving Ruston, he also stopped off and got himself a ring case.
Maybe it took them a minute, but the Cougars figured out something was different about their coach when they got to Sulphur.
Haddox was wearing the glistening bling on his finger; the spoils of his championship senior season.
That’s when Haddox laid out the plan.
If Cedar Creek won the 2014 Class 1A state title, then his ring was going in the case to be put up and preserved. Instead, he’d only wear one championship ring — theirs.
“Even just seeing his made us want it that much more and work that much harder,” senior Jacob Antee said.
“We wanted him to put his away and wear ours and have that to show future players.”
The Cougars held their coach to his word and brought the school’s first baseball championship since his senior year 14 years ago back to Ruston.
Cedar Creek swept Class 1A in baseball and softball this season, and just like the Lady Cougars, Haddox’s guys didn’t have it easy.
The Cougars — a seven seed — went through No. 2 St. Frederick on the road at Warrior Field, then knocked off No. 3 Central Catholic in the semifinals.
No. 9 Sacred Heart took a similar path as Cedar Creek’s to the 1A title game having upset three higher ranked teams, including No. 1 overall seed Ouachita Christian.
Tested once again, the Cougars showed their resolve by putting together a four-run fourth inning to pull ahead and seal the deal.
Haddox gave all the credit to his players for grinding their way to a championship.
“I’ll be more proud of this ring than I ever was of mine simply because of the way they did it,” Haddox said. “Just to be a part of it was a lot of fun.”
And now, in the same way that people around Ruston remember the group in 2000, Cedar Creek has two teams that leave behind championship legacies on the baseball field.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Antee said. “We’re going to be that 2014 team and I can’t think of anything better.”