Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Kelton shines in first year as starter

As a red-shirted freshman last year, Alabama designated hitter Jon Kelton appeared in only 15 games. This season, Kelton has not only become a regular starter for the Tide, but also led the nation in on-base percentage going into the beginning of the week.

The news came as a surprise to Kelton, who did not find out about the achievement until he was notified by relatives.

“I just got a text from my uncle one night,” Kelton said “I really had no idea. I knew I was getting on base quite a bit, but I didn’t know it would be that high.”

Despite growing up in LaGrange, Ga., Kelton grew up an Alabama fan and dreamed of playing for the Tide. Now the red-shirted sophomore is living his dream.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Kelton said. “It has been everything I hoped for. My dad raised me an Alabama fan. I just wanted to come here and be a part of Alabama.”

Being placed into the starting lineup as a sophomore can often be too much to handle for certain hitters. Kelton, however, said he refuses to feel the pressure.

“You got to go in and know your job,” Kelton said. “I know my role and what kind of player I am. You just got out there and compete.”

Kelton has not only dealt with his new role as the teams starting designated hitter, but also become one of the players the Tide’s struggling offense has leaned on.

“Jon has done a great job for us,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “The first thing about Jon is he knows his role, and his role is to get on base. He is our kind of player.”

Kelton said the time away from the field because of his role as designated hitter has provided with more time to concentrate on his approach at the plate.

“I enjoy hitting,” Kelton said “I got my routines, and it’s also a lot easier to get your mind right for at-bats.”

Kelton’s contributions to the team didn’t just start this year, according to Gaspard.

“He had an arm injury. If not for that, he would have competed to play left field last year,” Gaspard said. “Jon is really a guy that has always taken advantage of his opportunities.”

Kelton is not alone in terms of on-base percentage. Fellow teammate Taylor Dugas ranks second nationally behind Kelton in that category. When asked if there was a friendly competition between the two, Kelton grinningly denied it but mentioned that the two players made each other better.

“Nah, I don’t think he has mentioned it to me one time,” Kelton said. “I think we are somewhat similar hitters, we just kind of work together. He helps me out a lot, and, hopefully, I help him out too.”

The Tide will need Kelton to continue his success at the plate as they travel to Lexington, Ky., to face the University of Kentucky over the weekend.

“I just want to play really well and compete,” Kelton said. “Right now, I’m having a little success, and hopefully things keep going that way.”

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