Q & A with Baseball's Jared Denton
Senior catcher responds to Ten Questions
He speaks of big wins, big hits, camo jerseys and three head coaches
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- New York Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra is known today as much for his amusing quotes as for his performance on the diamond.
For example, he once said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”
The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team takes the field this weekend in a season-ending, home series against Northwood University. The play of their catcher, Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS), will do the talking. His numbers add up better than Yogi's quote.
A senior from the Rio Grande Valley, he is known by his gritty effort behind the plate or in leftfield almost as much for the productivity of his bat.
Denton has already (unofficially) broken a few SAGU records. Among them, career at bats, triples in a career and total bases in a career. Last year his five triples tied the mark for three-baggers in a season.
The six-footer could smash a few others as well. Three hits would snap Dustin Jett’s career mark and two more doubles would surpass Tommy Benningfield’s record.
A big effort this weekend in home runs (two) and runs batted in (nine) could establish new totals for the team.
His response to statistical high-water marks was one of humility and hope. “I’d rather our team does something we never have,” he said, “which is to earn our way into the conference tournament.”
To do that the Lions must hold off St. Gregory’s University or Mid-America Christian University and remain in the Top 8 in the league. After spending much of the spring in sixth place, the Purple Pride is currently in seventh, one game of the aforementioned teams.
SAGU has to win one of the three games against Northwood to make the NCCAA Central Regional tournament field.
Denton sat down this week in an interview and summed up his career in a series of questions.
Question No. 1) You have played for three different head coaches. What have you received from each of them?
JD: Each coach I have had in my college experience has instilled something different in my playing career. Coach (Greg) Hayes was my coach in my freshman year. He is the one who gave me an opportunity.
I came to SAGU as a walk-on and he didn’t hold that against me. He gave me ample chances and occasions to prove myself and earn a spot on his field.
Coach (Jon) Shockley was during my sophomore and junior seasons. He was a defensive/pitching-minded coach. He was great and ensured the pitcher and catcher were always on the same page.
Lastly, Coach (Sam) Blackmon arrived this year. I cannot say enough about him. He has vastly improved my game in every form.
From defensive strategies to the specifics of my swing, Coach Blackmon has turned me into a better player.
He has such a knack for hitting! And he works with each of us regularly on an individual basis.
Q2) Why did you enroll at SAGU?
JD: I came here for the Christian environment. It’s what has kept me here. I also knew God had called me to SAGU and that it was the place for me. Baseball was just the icing on the cake.
Coach Hayes told me that there would be a place on his roster for me and that is how it all began. From there I was able to improve my game and earn a spot on his starting roster.
Q3) How do you describe your experience here?
JD: This school has been great for me! It is the perfect fit for my life.
I appreciate how the professors, coaches and faculty genuinely care about you. At many other schools you may become "just another student."
SAGU doesn’t do that to you. The staff here exhibits Christ-like qualities and really cares about our lives.
Q4) What is your major and your career plans?
JD: I am going to graduate with a degree in Sports Management. My long-term goal is to find a spot in a front office for a professional team. For the time-being, I am looking to further my career in baseball.
Q5) You’ve been a part of many wins for the Lions. Can you tell us about just two of them that stick out in your memory?
JD: Two of the biggest wins I have ever had happened this year. The first was against Texas Wesleyan. We had never beaten them in my first three seasons. They have always had our number.
When we played them this year they were receiving votes in the Top 25 in the nation. Going in we knew it was going to be a tough battle.
(Jeremy) Cross was my battery mate that game and he pitched a spectacular game. We earned a win, 3-2, and for the first time, I got to be a part of a SAGU win over the Rams.
The second came against Mid-America Christian University.
We were in an intense battle all game long. Entering the 7th (inning) both teams were still scoreless. I led off that inning and hit a home run to leftfield to win it.
(Jarrod) Pisors and (Tucker) Burt teamed up for a three-hit shutout in that game.
Q6) What were your most memorable plays in your four years?
JD: That home run versus MACU was the most memorable in my career. It was at home too!
Two unforgettable moments occurred behind the plate.
The first was in the win at Wesleyan. They had two men on (base) and there was one out. Jeremy got the next guy on a fielder’s choice and then retired the last guy on a fly to (Brock) Schneider. That last out felt so good!
Also, in a home game against Hillsdale Baptist a year or two ago. They tried to steal home late in the game. I was able to block the plate and we caught him for the out.
Q7) What’s the deal with those camouflage jerseys?
JD: The camo jerseys were the coaches’ idea. Most of us players had never worn them in high school. Coach Blackmon thought, as an alternate shirt, it would be a cool, different idea for the "new Lions." We really like them. We usually wear them on Saturday when “Tres” (Ortiz) pitches.
Q8) This weekend is Senior Day. Two of the other three seniors came the same year as you. Care to tell us about them?
JD: Those two guys, Nick (Sheffield) and Tali (Fletcher) have been here with me from the start. They have been through all of the good and the bad for four years.
I have the utmost respect for both of those guys. They are my brothers.
Q9) You speak well of Coach Hayes and Coach Shockley. What do you think of the program now that Coach Blackmon is at the helm?
JD: Coach Blackmon has this program heading a great direction! From the moment he stepped on campus and took over as head coach, he has started making improvements.
With his direction, the sky is the limit! Coach’s ability and leadership will produce a team to be reckoned with. It’s just a matter of time.
Q10) May 11th signals a wonderful experience in your life. You are getting married to Shelby Morgan, who came here to play on the women’s soccer team. What’s in the plans for you both?
JD: Shelby and I will be staying here in Waxahachie. We will be continuing to seek God's will for our lives through this transitioning phase.
She will most likely be attending SAGU in the fall to get her Master's degree. I plan on attempting to further my baseball career, wherever that may lead.
Denton is the only child to parents Randy and Donna. They are both ministers.
Denton has improved his batting average during his four years in Waxahachie; from .291 to .305 and to .365 as a junior. Currently he’s at .405, which ranks No. 7 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
The congenial Jared wears jersey number 11. When he hangs up his cleats at SAGU, he will likely need only one numeral. It is where he will rate in terms of productivity in purple.