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Hillcrest’s Barton signs with Shelton State


TUSCALOOSA | Parker Barton’s college choice is conveniently located, but that wasn’t the only factor he considered.

Barton, a senior at Hillcrest High School, has signed to play baseball at Shelton State Community College, which is close to his home.

"I feel like it’s a perfect fit, and I think I’ll do well there," said Barton, who wants to be an engineer. "It kind of makes me more comfortable. I don’t have to worry about getting looked at by other scouts. I know who I’m playing for, and I can just play to the best of my ability."

Shelton State coach Bobby Sprowl is known for developing pitchers, but he can’t do so without a solid catcher. Barton hopes to fill that role for the Buccaneers in 2014. Sprowl is a former University of Alabama pitcher. Barton’s father, Rusty, was an Alabama outfielder.

"I want to try and start and play a lot there," Barton said. "Besides the location, being so close, they go to the Junior College World Series every year, and they have a great coaching staff. They’re a great feeder school. Most of their players usually go on to four-year colleges."

Barton said he expects to hit in the middle of the lineup as a senior.

"I’m not like the long-ball hitter very much," he said. "I’m good at just doubles and singles. I would say my strengths behind the plate are my arm and I’m quick and have good footwork."

Mark Garner, Hillcrest’s first-year coach, said Barton has a "great chance" to be the starting catcher.

"We want them to have competition because we believe competition drives them to become better players," Garner said.

"As far as his play in the past, he does hold an edge over others. His skills have improved greatly over the last couple of years. He’s got quality footwork as a catcher. He has a great release and a good, strong arm. One of his best assets is his mental toughness and physical toughness behind the plate."

Last summer, Barton played for the American Legion Post 34 team that won a state title and went on to a regional.

"That was a big milestone, and this is just right up there with it," Barton said.

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.