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Walters State finishes third in JUCO World Series

For the second consecutive year, Unicoi County left a mark at the NJCAA JUCO World Series.
Walters State Community College continued the trend this season, wrapping up their stint in Colorado last weekend finishing third in the nation.
The Senators ended their season with a 57-12 record under second-year head coach and Unicoi County native Dave Shelton. Also representing Unicoi County on the team are freshmen Austin Green and Ethan Rice.
Mike Corn, another county native, took his team to the World Series last season.
“Coach Corn experienced it last year with Columbia State,” Shelton told The Erwin Record on Sunday, May 31, in a phone interview. “We got to experience it this year. It says a lot about baseball in Unicoi County. It is a different mentality and you understand tradition.
“Baseball isn’t rocket science. It has been tweaked by coaches over the years on how they teach it, but baseball’s baseball … the game stays the same. The ones that are able to succeed are the ones that understand how to work hard and compete and that’s instilled in players from the area at a young age.”
Shelton eclipsed the career 100-win plateau this season and while this accolade has his name on it, the credit goes to his players, he said.
“I can’t say enough about the team,” Shelton added. “If you would have told us we’d win 40 games this year, I’d be happy with that. We struggled in the fall. The guys competed and competed. But to finish third in the nation, it says a lot. It is a big country with a lot of talented JUCO programs. We went in wanting to win a championship, but it was hard to be disappointed with what we were able to accomplish in Grand Junction.”
Walters State outscored opponents 50-41 and won three out of five games the JUCO World Series. Their run came to a close on Saturday, May 30, with an 11-5 defeat to McLennan (Texas), who the Senators defeated on May 25, 10-6, to come within a game of the national championship.
“If this doesn’t motivate the freshmen for next season, I don’t know what will,” Shelton said. “The team had the chance to play in front of 38,000 people in the span of five games, including a game where we played in front of a crowd of almost 12,000.
“You can’t put a value on the amount of experience the guys have gotten during that time. It was my fifth time, the first as a head coach, and it is still something I think about everyday.”
Success in Morristown came naturally for the Senators under hall of famer head coach Ken Campbell.
After Campbell’s retirement, Shelton took the reins and the winning ways have continued for the program.
“I honestly didn’t expect us to be this good this fast,” he said. “I know there’s always that transition period, but it comes back to what a special testament it is to the kids that come through here.
“A whole bunch of the kids that are in the program weren’t heavily recruited out of high school. Now, they have the opportunity to be recruited by SEC and ACC schools across the country.”
There’s no rest for the Senators after their trip away from the state. The team hosted a camp on Monday, June 1, and will continue a busy schedule with scouting trips in Murfreesboro, Georgia and Florida and hosting an Atlanta Braves workout in July.
Shelton shared a laugh when discussing the schedule ahead, saying there aren’t a lot of breaks in college baseball, but that he’s looking forward to catching some fish on Indian Creek and spending time with his family.