July 3, 2014

Shelton's summer includes plenty of winning

Cole Shelton’s baseball team is having a pretty good summer — and it doesn’t seem to matter if the bats in he and his teammate’s hands are made of aluminum or wood.

The Georgia Jackets, a 15-and-younger select squad, won the Perfect Game 15U World Wood Bat National Championship last week in Emerson. The 184-team tournament included squads from 25 states.

Shelton, who will be a sophomore at Dalton High School this year, and his teammates celebrated their third tournament win this summer.

“This year, we’ve played in three tournaments and won them all,” Shelton said. “This one is probably the most prestigious one.”

Perfect Game is a national scouting service that hosts tournaments across the country. The Jackets started their summer by winning the Perfect Game 15U Super 25 Georgia Regional and then the Perfect Game 15U East Cobb Invitational, both aluminum bat tournaments.

“I prefer aluminum,” Shelton said, “but I like wood bat (competition) because it’s more of a challenge.”

The Jackets, a travel team based in Milton, are ranked 31st in the Perfect Game 15U rankings. The team played seven pool play games in last week’s tournament and five bracket games. There were 23 eight-team pools, with each pool winner advancing to the tournament round. The Jackets lost their second game, against Adrenaline Elite, but won the other six pool games and finished atop the group.

The tournament started June 20 and finished Friday.

“A lot of the top teams in the country came,” said Shelton, a second baseman and pitcher for the Jackets. “We ended up playing a team from New York in the championship.”

Shelton made The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Baseball Team as a freshman this spring. A pitcher and left fielder for the Catamounts, he batted .443 and led the team in runs scored with 30. He also had 26 RBIs and 10 doubles.

Shelton has played for a select team since he was 9, and this is his second summer as part of the Georgia Jackets organization. He believes being part of a travel squad helps him help the Cats during the high school season.

“It helps a lot. It gives me a challenge and a reason to work even harder,” he said. “This team definitely helps a lot with that. I get to play a good level of competition.”

Most of the Jackets are Georgia residents, although the team roster lists one player, Javier Valdes, from Miami. Shelton said the team’s general manager flies Valdes in for tournaments.

The Jackets are 25-2, but they’re not finished with their summer schedule. They’ll play in two more tournaments before the Perfect Game 15U World Series and Super 25 National Championship next month in Fort Myers, Fla.

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