At the plate? Four home runs, 17 RBIs and a .315 hitting percentage.
On the mound? Fifty-one strikeouts and 17 walks in 59 innings, with a 2.93 ERA and five wins in eight games. Lofty statistical averages for even a high school senior, these were just some the numbers of Lyon County’s Jackson Shoulders, who did all this as a freshman in 2019.
And it’s just the tip of the iceberg on the havoc he can wreak on the diamond.
With 75% of his high school sports career ahead of him, the only thing that slowed him down was the shutdown of baseball altogether in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak across the country.
Shoulders, only a sophomore, is still holding out the narrow hope with the rest of the bluegrass for another season of baseball, but the stoppage of all sports across the nation hasn’t prevented him from being recognized as an honorable mention honor to the Rawlings Perfect Game Underclassmen Team.
With more than 450,000 high school baseball players in the country, the recent announcement of the all-underclassmen teams assured that Shoulders stands among the giants.
“Being named to the Rawlings underclassmen preseason watch list certainly means a lot to me to know that my hard work isn’t going unnoticed,” Shoulders said.
“Seeing that gives me motivation to keep working harder to get better and not to give up because we could potentially not get to play at all this year. For me, I still have two seasons I’m working for. This little hiccup in the road isn’t going to stop us from working on these upcoming seasons.”
With his burst of roars during basketball or baseball season and that immaculate flowing, blonde hair, it’s impossible to ignore the magnitude of Shoulders’ shear talent ... or his love for the games he plays.
With 51 strikeouts during his freshman season, Shoulders walked just 17 batters as the Lyons went a Region 2 best 24-11 — a 12-game improvement over the season before. The team also advanced to the All-A State Tournament after taking down University Heights Academy 10-6 and won the district title for the first time since the mid 1990s under first-year head coach Ricky Baker.
“Jackson brings leadership, he is a winner,” Baker said of Shoulders. “He is our ace just for the simple fact that he handles big games better than anyone. He doesn’t throw as hard as Austin Long or as hard as Travis Yancy, but his placement is second to none. At the plate he is one swing away from changing the game. He pitched good enough to win the regional tournament opener game against Henderson County.”
Shoulders’ bat played a part, certainly, in Lyon County’s 24 wins last season, but it was his countless appearances on the mound in big game situations that attested to his abilities.
Shoulders pitched at some point for the Lyons in the first game of the All-A Regional Tournament, the All-A Regional Championship, the sectional championship, the first game of the All-A State Tournament and in the Region 2 Tournament opener in a 2-0 loss against a formidable Henderson County opponent that the Lyons could have taken down back on May.
Baker added that while things have not looked good in the continual delays of the KHSAA spring sports season, he is still hopeful for the Lyons to play baseball at some point this season.
And the Lyons are hurting and hoping as much as anyone, with early predictions of a second consecutive All-A title in the mix for 2020, as well as a slot among the top teams expected to compete for the Region 2 title with Hopkinsville and Henderson County.
“The hardest part about it has been not been in the baseball atmosphere,” Shoulders added. “The hype of it all and just not being around my guys is definitely the hardest part. What keeps me positive is just knowing that there is still a possibility out there of us still getting to play this summer.”
The KHSAA spring sports hiatus is extended until at least May 1, with the athletic association treating it like the annual summer dead period despite coaches being permitted more limited contact with their players.