Leaving Something Behind

Abner wants pair of championships to be his legacy

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

April 11, 2008 - Wildcats senior Dalton Abner has taken to heart a saying athletic director and head football coach Greg Owens said during their district championship football season.

The saying is, "Leave a legacy behind for the younger guys in everything you do during your senior year."

"Coach Owens taught us during the football season we need to try and leave a legacy here in Sulphur Springs," Abner said. "We were able to do that in football and now we want to do that in baseball. We want to be able to play hard and leave a district championship here for the younger guys, so they can want what we had during our time here."

This season, Abner is currently second on the team in wins with a 3-1 pitching record and a 2.19 ERA in 16 innings pitched. He has struck out 15 and walked only one.

At the plate, he is 10-for-46 (.217 BA) with four RBI, 11 runs scored and four doubles. He holds the team lead in stolen bases with four and walks with 10. He also has a .900 fielding percentage in 100 innings played this season.

"He is a very versatile player for us since he plays third base, left field and also pitches," said Wildcats coach Jerrod Hammack. "He is an ideal two-hole hitter for us because he is a good bunter, he can hit the ball to the right side - which is what you want from a two-hole hitter. He has also been a huge part of this teams success during district."

Abner has been a member of the Wildcats varsity team for the past two seasons and said he has a goal in mind for the remainder of the season.

"This season has been exciting during my senior year and it was nice to win a district championship in football," he said. "Hopefully, I can get two in my senior year and that would be really fun. If we can get our pitching going during the rest of the season and in the playoffs - since we have more depth - we should be able to go farther this season."

A big key to reaching their third straight Class 4A postseason berth will be dealing with the weather Northeast Texas has faced recently and not giving opponents a chance to stay in games.

"We just need to have good strong practices and keep our heads up," the senior said. "We need to be able to play to our ability and not hang around with any teams we know we can pound. He have tendencies of doing that, but I think if we can get past that then we should be all right."

He said playing with seniors Jeff Beck, Brittan Diamond, Josh Dunn, Kevin Mabe, Brandon Whittle and Dustin Gant has made him a better player.

"It has been fun and I love playing with these guys," Abner said. "It has been amazing this season playing with the seniors and I would not trade any of the them for the world. We are a close knit group of guys and I love them all.

"Overall, I just love the sport, and I want to play the game. Wherever Coach Hammack wants to put me on the field is where I am going to play. I will make sure that I do the best job that I can and give 100 percent every game."

The son of Webb and Kristal Riera, he is a member of the Key Club and plans on attending Tyler Junior College in the fall. He then plans on transferring to UT-Tyler with plans of studying kinesiology and business.

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