Playing deep in the heart
When a baseball player has an opportunity to play at the next level near his hometown, he considers himself blessed.
When that same player has an opportunity to play 12 hours from home, he still considers it a blessing. Such is the case for 2017 Paris High School graduate Brady Sutton.
The current Lake Land College outfielder was hoping for the chance to play a little closer to home this summer, but when that did not happen, and not wanting to sit out the summer, he sought opportunities elsewhere. Sutton found a team in Grand Prairie, Texas, that was interested in the young outfielder.
The Grand Prairie Pilots are a member of the Great Southwest Collegiate League. Sutton knew getting there and staying there was a major undertaking but he also knew it would be well worth the effort. Since players are not paid to play, and do not get any money for travel expenses, Sutton set out on a fundraising expedition.
“I made some flyers with my picture and information about the league that I was going to play in,” said Sutton. “I also connected through emails and face-to-face meetings. I took the flyers to different businesses and other donors so that I could get the word out.”
Facebook was another avenue Sutton used and was rewarded with a local business donating 20 percent of its profit to him.
“I was very lucky to hear from so many people, and fortunate to receive so many donations and other gifts,” Sutton said. “I am truly thankful to each and every person who generously donated so that I could live out my dream.”
Local residents may complain about the scorching summer Edgar County has had, but it is nothing compared to the Texas heat. That is one thing that really stuck in Sutton’s memory.
Aside from the heat, Sutton was impressed with the level of competition. “All-around, every team was very competitive,” he said.
As was the case throughout his career at PHS, Sutton led not only his team in quality at-bats (a measure of how productive a hitter is at the plate, regardless of result), but also the entire league.
Sutton was in the top five in on-base percentage. His team qualified to play in the NBC World Series but was denied that chance due to an error by the league commissioner.
Similar to his time at PHS, Sutton quickly became a leader on the team. Instead of just going through the motions while playing every night, Sutton focused on working on his launch angle.
“With this being a wooden bat league, working on it (launch angle) was something that I personally wanted to get better at,” he said
Sutton wrapped up his time in Texas July 15 and will enjoy the next few weeks in Paris before heading back to Lake Land Aug. 16.
“I am so thankful and blessed to come from such a great community that cares,” said Sutton. “That’s one thing I love about Paris, and I will always cherish what they did for me.”
Sutton finished his playing career at PHS with a .421 batting average, a .560 on-base percentage, eight home runs, 93 RBIs, 126 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases. He was the primary leadoff hitter for head coach Creighton Tarr during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.