The status of the suspended 2020 season may be in doubt for the talented Glen Rose High School baseball team, several seniors have plans to keep playing, including a potential Major League Baseball prospect.
Glen Rose High School head baseball coach James Evans has nine seniors anxiously waiting to find out when — or if — they can complete their final season with the Tigers.
The University Interscholastic League’s most recent message indicated that all spring sports are still on hold until at least
May 4 because of the COVID-19 precautions. The Tigers were enjoying an outstanding 8-3 start to the 2020 season when school and related activities were suspended.
Some of the seniors have hopes of baseball after high school, a
t the collegiate level or maybe even beyond.
Both Jadon Harper and Michael Watson have committed to play baseball at Southwest Assemblies of God University, a private NAIA school in Waxahachie. Both are pitchers, and Harper was also being looked at as a hitter.
Harper has a 3-0 pitching record so far this season, and led the team in hitting with a scorching .607 average and 19 runs batted in. Last season as a junior, Harper was named as the District 7-4A Utility Player of the Year.
Watson was 1-1 pitching this season, after earning first-team all-district honors as a junior. He led last year’s team in victories (8-4) and earned run average (2.41).
Glen Rose catcher Ashton Smith, the Co-Defensive Most Valuable Player in District for 2019, is hoping to have a future in college baseball but he has yet to decide on a college. Smith was the recipient of the Tiger Excellence Award for baseball in 2019, when he led the team in hitting with a .443 average.
Senior Davis Shackelford has caught the attention of at least two NCAA Division I schools, as well as one Major League Baseball team.
His physical talents also served him well in football, earning first-team all-state recognition from the Texas Sports Writers Association his junior year as a tight end for head coach Cliff Watkins’ 11-2 Tigers.
For now, Shackelford remains committed to play baseball at Weatherford College as a potential two-way player — in the outfield and as a pitcher.
When the season was suspended, Shackelford had a 1-2 pitching record with an ERA of 0.66, while striking out 21 batters. He has 15 RBI and scored 16 runs, and his .481 batting average ranks second on the team behind Harper.
As a sophomore, Shackelford was voted as the district’s Pitcher of the Year, after being the Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. He set a GRHS school record for strikeouts in a season as a sophomore, with 96.
Recovery from a shoulder injury his junior year suffered during the 2018 football season limited him to nine baseball games and a role as designated hitter. He still earned first-team all-district honors for a third time, batting .395.
“He definitely has what it takes to go to the next level,” coach Evans said when asked about Shackelford’s baseball future. “He’s a great ballplayer, and he’s coachable. He’s real humble. He’s a coach’s dream.
“He’s one of the top hitters we’ve had. You definitely have to be careful when pitching to him because he can hurt you at the plate.”
SELECT TRAVEL LEAGUES
Shackelford has had extensive experience with several high-level select travel league baseball teams over the years. That competition took him to 12 states outside of Texas — Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kansas.
The select team he was with in 2019, the Rawlings Arkansas Prospects, was one of the top teams in the nation, having reached the quarterfinals of the World Wood Bat Association’s National Championship and the semifinals in the PG Elite Championship and PG World Series. That team posted a 29-5 season record and finished its season ranked No. 6 in the nation.
Shackelford was among 16 players on that team ranked among the top 500 prospects in the nation.
A COACH’S SON
Technically, Shackelford is a baseball coach’s son — giving him a solid foundation that has served him quite well in his development.
His father, GRHS Principal Kelly Shackelford, was the baseball coach at Hico and later at Bowie before getting into school administration. In 1999, he was an assistant baseball coach at Collinsville when that school won a Class A state championship. He came to Glen Rose in June of 2016 as the successor to former GRHS Principal Tommy Corcoran.
Davis Shackelford said his baseball experience began with T-ball, but can’t quite remember if he was age 6 or 7. His development resulted in attention from Wichita State University as well as Missouri.
“I had a lot of contact with Wichita State, and I liked it up there a lot,” Shackelford said, adding that both of those schools made scholarship offers. “They did, right before my football injury.
“And after my injury, (Wichita State) pulled it or held it. But I kept contact because they did get a new coaching staff right after that. I did have one from Missouri as well. But that was also taken away, or pulled, or held (after) the injury.“
That injury in the first district game of his junior year of football kept him sidelined from baseball until district play. Shackelford had also suffered a shoulder injury during his freshman football season, and had surgery both times. He also had a football injury as a freshman, suffering a broken hand late that season, although he was ready to play in time for that 2017 baseball campaign.
Even though he still loved football, Shackelford made an excruciating decision — to not play football his senior year.
“I was heartbroken,” Shackelford said of his decision. “I love football. Yes, I do. I love it so much. But the past couple of years I had surgery. (And) my freshman year, our last playoff game, I ended up breaking my hand. So I was always coming into baseball a little late being in shape for baseball. So I was hoping maybe this senior year I could just start fresh in baseball and have a good senior year.
“I got cleared from both injuries a month or two ahead of schedule. So I was very blessed to heal very fast and not have any setbacks in the recovery process.”
Watkins took the news — that the team’s all-state tight end was sitting out the 2019 football season — quite well, Shackelford said.
“He was very, very nice about it,” Shackelford said. “And he knew I was upset. He knew that was probably what was best for me. He knew that the risks that I’d had were pretty tough on me and the injuries I had were pretty tough. He was very nice about it, and was encouraging.”
Shackelford said his football teammates “were also very nice about it, too. All of them understood, as well. I’ve never had any negativity toward me whatsoever for not playing football.”
Evans noted, “He’s overcome a lot of adversity with his shoulder injuries. He’s come a long way since then.”
BIG LEAGUE DREAMS
This past summer, after scouts noticed him while he was competing with a select travel league baseball team in Arizona, he was contacted by a representative of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s always been my dream,” said Shackelford, who is the current GRHS Student Council president. “Before this year, not as much. Earlier this year, I got contacted by the Milwaukee Brewers and went to meet a lot of their organization, like scouts in their organization. Ever since then, it’s been more on my mind.”
His hitting prowess may be what scouts have noticed the most lately. He could end up both a pitcher and outfielder at Weatherford College under longtime head baseball coach Jeff Lightfoot.
“I am actually considered more of an outfielder than pitcher,” Shackelford said. “That’s what I signed to play, but he also said that once your arm gets healthy, if you’re throwing good again, you could come and pitch too. But, as of now, mainly I’m an outfielder.
“I really enjoy pitching as much as I like hitting and playing in the outfield. If it comes down to it, I would want to pursue the one that I do better in, whichever one that may be when I get to the next level.”
Weatherford College’s program helped launch the careers of MLB players Jake Arrieta (Orioles, Cubs and Phillies), Ryan Brasier (Angels and Red Sox) and German Duncan (Rangers), plus more than two dozen other former Coyotes who went on to play professionally at one level or another.
“My hitting has gotten a whole lot better,” Shackelford said. “When I was younger, say my freshman year, I didn’t have as much power as I do now. Over the years I started getting a lot bigger and stronger.”
He said that his knowledge of which pitches to hit made a big difference as well.
“That just came with a lot of time and a lot of playing the game and good coaching,” he said.
Shackelford aims to major in anatomy and physiology. In case he doesn’t venture into pro baseball, he will be involved in the radiology program at Weatherford College.