We are in the pre season of Daulton's last year of high school baseball. I have mixed emotions because that means my boy is about to graduate and leave home. Bittersweet.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew that I was going to have a son and I wanted to name him Daulton. I was a Darren Daulton fan and loved how his name looked on the back of his baseball jersey. My son was going to play baseball and football. We all have those dreams for our kids, right? My husband is a huge sports fan and it just seemed fitting. Daulton arrived on Father's Day June 18, 1995 weighing 9lbs 110z and was 22 inches long. This child has loved this game since he could walk. I am NOT kidding. He started walking two days before he turned 9 months old and he would walk around with a small plastic baseball bat. I knew when he was two that he loved the game. His sister is 2 years older than him and at 4 she played softball. He would sit on the bleachers with me and cry because he could not go on the field and play. He would wear his little cleats and baseball cap and want to be out there so bad. When he turned four we signed him up at our local park. He couldn't wait to play. Poor kid cried the first time he got up to bat because the coach made him where a helmet to bat and he didn't want to, but once he got through that everything has been great.
He has always loved it. We have never forced him and he has never wanted to quit. It was the only sport that he would even play for the longest until he was about 10 and he played basketball. He does like it, but baseball is more natural for him. He made 6 year old allstars at 5 and played allstars every summer until he was 11. Back then I don't remember baseball being so competitive with these little guys, but then again our park was a lot smaller. We felt it was best for him to not play travel baseball until he was 11. So many kids now start around 8 and kid pitch at that. We felt it was healthier for him to wait. Rec ball doesn't start kid pitch until they are 9, which gave Daulton two years to get use to it before travel ball began. He joined a travel team out of our park where he was coached by Randy for two years. He went to Cooperstown at 12 and had a blast. Daulton has a June birthday and during this time the dates changed for eligible players. It was moved from August 1st to May 1st. When Randy didn't take his travel team back Daulton wanted to go out to East Cobb and try out for a 12 year old team, this would mean that if he made one he would probably be one of the oldest players on the team and he would be able to go to Cooperstown for a second time. Daulton made the 12 year old East Cobb Longhorns. It was one of the best teams he had been on. He is still good friends with several of the boys from that team and three of the boys are on his high school team. This is where Daulton started to develop as a pitcher. He was fortunate enough to learn from Coach Paul. We were able to go to Cooperstown again, what a memorable experience! Daulton was pitching an awesome game and we were up by two when he got nailed in the head and had to be taken to the local hospital for an MRI. He did not suffer a concussion. His coach said he was throwing a strike but the boy hit it, Daulton went to duck and put his glove up to catch it and it hit him in the head. The ball hit off of his head and the center fielder caught it! When he got up from being knocked down he was in tears because they were making him get examined. He just looked at us and said " I just want to go back in and pitch!". He has always loved this GAME. He loves to field, but he really loves to pitch. After that season the Longhorns split up, we had several kids that had birthdays late like Daulton and they stayed back and played 12s again. From there he joined the Kennesaw Mustangs coached by Mike Slone. His pitching coach Paul was going to this team and that was where he wanted to go. We were blessed to be a part of another great team and made more life long friends. It is a funny thing, your kids make good friends and some of our best friends have been the parents of his friends. Any way, he was there for two years. He again was the oldest on his travel team, so he was the first to start high school ball.
That alone has been an experience. You see, when you are on the high school team you play from February to April or May and then travel ball goes until August. You can't play travel and high school at the same time. He had a great two years on JV. He started 95% of the games. His freshman year he was the starting pitcher for 9 of their games. After the mustangs split he just played summer ball with one of his best friends with a team called the Dirtbags. They turned out to be pretty good. Summers have always been about baseball at our house. I keep rambling on and on and I am almost to the meat of my story.
Daulton could not wait to make Varsity. Last year he made it, normally juniors do. His excitement was quickly turning into disappointment when he didn't get to start like he had many times before. He pitches and plays first, but was put on the bench and was getting discouraged. I kept telling him to be patient, maybe God was wanting him to learn something. He would get a chance here and there to pitch a couple of innings when their senior pitchers would struggle. He was going to have to prove himself. We have always told him that, but this time he really needed to do it. So every time he got the chance he would make the best of it. He seemed to be doing really well when he did make the most of it. The turning point for Daulton was when we where playing Kennesaw Mountain. They are a rival in our region, but we also has some dear friends on the team as well. Our starting senior pitcher was in and he started to struggle. Coach put Daulton in and we ended up winning the game and Daulton shut them down. It was so funny to see coach actually hug D and he told him that he had only given out two game balls as a coach and this was one of those times. I have never seen my son (who usually shows NO emotion) so excited and pumped up. The rest of the season was exciting! He continually had to prove himself. All along we have been telling him that he needed to thank his Savior for what he has done through him. We ended up placing second in our region and making it to the State playoffs. We made through the first round with no problem. Daulton got a win in the first round. Before playoffs he had 6 wins under his belt. He had and era of 1.41. It was exciting to see his name in the paper especially on Sundays in the MDJ and it would show the eras for the year. Our next playoff challenge was MILTON! They were ranked 4th in the state and boy, was that a tough crowd. We had to drive out to Alpharetta and experience some of the rudest students sections we have ever seen. We had a double header that night, we lost our first game. Dautlon pitched the second game and got his 8th win. When he goes in to pitch I get nervous and play games on my phone, I think that is the only reason I got an iphone. Mike thinks it is silly for me to get nervous, but here is the thing. I want him to succeed. I believe that he can do it, he had so much to prove this past year and I want him to prove people wrong. I also want him to give God all the glory. State playoff games are best two out of three. So we were tied with games. We had to go back the second night, where the Milton fans roped off the bleachers and didn't allow us to sit behind home plate, real classy. It was a tough game and so close. I really can't remember the details because it was so intense. I remember one of our senior pitchers struggling and the score being close. Usually a pitcher does not pitch two days in a row. They are usually given several days to rest their arm. I remember seeing Daulton warming up and our other pitcher from the first game. I thought, there is no way they would put him back in. And what do you know, Coach did! Talk about nerves, instant stress on my part. The batters would taunt him when they got up to plate, one boy would say "Tommy John Tommy John", but Daulton on the mound shows no emotion. (sometimes when he strikes people out or the infield will catch something and the innings are over I have seen him beat his chest lol) He did his thing and shut them down, even tipping his hat to the dug out. One of his good friends scored the run where we took the lead. We came back and Beat MILTON, to make it to the Elite Eight. One of the most exciting games I have witnessed.
The 13+ years of watching my son play, this was the peak moment. This boy was on cloud Nine after that game. We ended up losing to Grayson in the next round, but it was okay, our team had shut Milton down and that was all that mattered. Dautlon ended his high school season 8-1, his only loss was to Grayson. He was an All-Region honorable mention and he made First team All-County as a pitcher.
His summer season was not what he wanted it to be. He had already committed to play for the East Cobb Padres. After his high school season he had four teams that wanted him to come pitch for them. He wanted to switch teams but we told him that you have to honor your commitments. That is integrity. The good thing about that team is that he was able to not be just a pitcher only, he as able to field and hit as well. East Cobb Tryouts are in August, and he decided that he did not want to stay with the Padres. He contacted the ECBraves coach and asked him to take a look at him during tryouts. Daulton already had a spot on the East Cobb Longhorns, but he wanted to see if he could even make the Braves. And you know what, he did. The coach asked him to pitch for him in the summer but for him to play on the 18 year old Astros with Coach Crane in the fall. Our fall season was busier than our summer. We traveled all over. He even got the chance to play in Jupiter Florida for a huge scouting tournament and had an awesome game.
Daulton has really enjoyed being on the Astros. He has learned so much from Coach Crane. He decided to stay with the Astros this summer, which will probably be his last summer playing travel. He can play next summer because of his birthday, but that is up to him. Being on this team has had some challenges. I have been shocked at the way some people have treated him, and myself, because he is on this team. He set a goal and accomplished it. It has been a huge opportunity for him. We don't think we are better than others because of it. We have been overwhelmed by the opportunity and so grateful. I wish others can be supportive, but you find out who your friends are.
In November Daulton received a phone call from Coach Mike Burns from Calhoun Community College in Decatur Alabama. He was inviting Daulton out to look at the campus and talk to him about playing baseball for him next year. We visited the school the weekend before Thanksgiving. I was impressed. It was a beautiful campus, has very nice training facilities and a nice baseball field. He offered Daulton a full scholarship. Books, tuition and fees. They do not have on campus housing, he told Daulton that if they had it he would be getting that too. We were a little overwhelmed. What more could you ask for? A school is willing to pay for your first year of college just for you to play baseball! He gave Dautlon a month to decide. Daulton was quiet. He really struggled with the thought of being 3 1/2 hours away from home. In December Coach Crane took Daulton and some other players from his Astros team to Georgia Perimeter. They toured the campus and were offered a full scholarship even housing. Daulton decided to go there since it was closer, and he turned down Coach Burns in Alabama. He called the Perimeter coach and made a verbal commitment, but he didn't hear back. Daulton talked to coach Crane, who told him to let him find out what was going on. Little did we know the school was over budget last year and could not offer what they intended. Daulton had a choice to make. He learned a life lesson. He called coach Burns back on January 19. He told coach what happened and he asked if there was still an offer. He told D that he would let him know. The next day he called Dautlon back and he still had a scholarship for him and was his if he wanted it. God is so good. Two days later D got his Scholarship award and letter of intent.
He had 14 days to send it back . He was nervous. So much change, he has never been that far away from home for so long, much less moving out. Michael, Daulton and I sat down for a heart to heart. We asked him if he felt this was from God. To my surprise and relief he said yes, he said all the other doors were closed, he had two other offers fall through and another college that said that they wanted him, the coach was getting replaced. This was the door that was open ( or should I say reopened because Daulton was the one that closed it) It is amazing to see your son realize God's work in his life.I referred to Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the Talents. God has given him a gift and it is up to him to do something with it. He finally signed it and we mailed it back, but this past Wednesday was the nation wide National Signing Day. We made a copy for him to sign at it.
This has been a bittersweet last couple of weeks. Daulton starts his last season of high school baseball. He will graduate in May. There are so many emotions as a mother that I am experiencing right not that my husband thinks I am having a mid life crisis. I can not express the joy that I feel knowing that he has set goals and accomplished them. His goals aren't over yet. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for him.
This has been a long post, if you took the time to read it, thank you. I wanted to share my son's 14 year baseball journey, and it is still continuing and we are so blessed. I want others to know and realize not to get so caught up in the moments that you miss out or burn bridges. We know so many children that Daulton has played with that don't play the game any more because of burn out. We see so many parents living through their kids and acting like fools on the sidelines, even as young as 5. Take the time to enjoy it. If your child doesn't want to play, don't force them. Daulton has genuinely loved this game. It is his hearts desire. I believe that it is a God given desire. I believe that God can be glorified through anything. I believe He is the reason for Daulton's success. I am so thankful for the blessing of a scholarship and him being able to continue the Game. I also want others to know and see what God can do in a family. 15 years ago Mike and I almost divorced. Daulton was 2. God intervened and we listened and allowed him to heal our family. God is in the miracle business. I have witnessed it so many times in my own walk. This is a testament to him. Walking with the Lord is the greatest adventure.
"It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to go good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10