Florala’s 1A Hitter of the Year competes at inaugural Yellowhammer State Games

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Florala High School rising senior Dalton Jackson recently had an opportunity to showcase his skills on the diamond with his participation in Prep Baseball Alabama’s inaugural Yellowhammer State Games.

Jackson was one of 181 baseball athletes statewide who received an email invitation to compete in the two-day event. The showcase took place at Sand Mountain Park in Albertville, Alabama on Tuesday, June 18, and Wednesday, June 19.

“I was so stoked to hear I was selected to participate in the Yellowhammer State Games,” Jackson said. “Finding out I was chosen to represent Florala High School at such a big event was super humbling and motivating. I was grateful for the chance and determined to make the most of it.”

He completed his junior season for the Wildcats with a .579 batting average (55 hits in 95 at-bats), eight home runs, 40 RBI, 34 runs scored, 23 walks, and eight stolen bases. He also finished with a 5-1 record and one save, had a 2.31 earned run average in 33 1/3 innings pitched, and struck out 51 batters.

For his efforts, Jackson was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Hitter of the Year in Class 1A. He was also recognized with First Team All-State honors.

“Being selected means a lot to me. I felt honored and privileged to have this opportunity to represent my school and community. It is a chance to display what Florala High School baseball is all about,” he said.

Jackson learned many skills at the Yellowhammer State Games but said his favorite skill was mental toughness.

“Dealing with the pressure of competing at a high level taught me how to stay focused and composed under stress, which is super important in any competitive situation. All in all, the competition not only improved my technical skills but also taught me a lot about sportsmanship, perseverance, and the value of hard work. These lessons will definitely help me in future competitions and in my personal growth journey,” he said.

He demonstrated his defensive skills at both first and third base and also displayed solid batting skills. Prep Baseball clocked his exit velocity of 100.5 mph at the plate as the second best and only 0.4 mph behind the leader of that category.

“Overall, I’m proud of my performance at the event and feel like I was solid on defense. I was successful at the plate with a couple of decent hits and increased my maximum exit velocity during the event,” Jackson said.

Jackson feels his participation at this summer’s event will aid him in the long run beginning with his last year at Florala.

“The chance to represent Florala High School at the Yellowhammer State Games is a big confidence boost for me as I gear up for my senior year and baseball season with the Wildcats. It’s given me a ton of motivation,” he said. “I plan to lead by example on and off the field, using what I’ve learned to push myself and my teammates to reach new levels of success. I’m determined to make my senior year and baseball season the best they can be for both myself and my team.”

As the only selection from Covington County, he is grateful to all those around him who show their support.

“The support I’ve gotten from my family, friends, teammates, and the Florala community means the world to me,” Jackson said. “Their encouragement and belief in me have been huge in helping me succeed, not just in sports but in life. My family has always had my back, cheering me on from the sidelines and supporting me through every challenge. My friends and teammates have pushed me to be better, both as an athlete and a person. The community’s support has shown me the power of unity and pride. Their support has shown me that I’m not alone in my journey and that we can achieve great things together. Their belief in my abilities has motivated me to work harder and strive for excellence in everything I do. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and am truly grateful for that.”

Jackson has been playing baseball since he was three or four years old.

“I’ve been playing baseball for as long as I can remember. My interest was sparked at a young age when I first picked up a glove and bat. I was initially interested at the challenge of hitting a pitched ball. Since then, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the strategy involved, the skill required in each position, and the mental toughness needed to succeed in the game. Baseball has become more than just a sport for me. It’s a passion that has shaped my character and taught me valuable life lessons about discipline, resilience, and teamwork,” he said.

Florala Head Coach Tyler Zessin said he and the Wildcat baseball team were all proud of Dalton’s selection to the event.

“The work he puts in during the summer translates to our season as shown with this season and past seasons. Dalton has excellent character and is a joy to coach. He’s always willing to help out our younger kids and that’s what I appreciate of him. He’s like another coach on the field. Aside from his character, in my opinion, he is the best pure hitter in the state. He will for sure have the opportunity to play college baseball after his season,” Zessin said.

Dalton is the son of Kennith and Jessica Jackson with an older sister, Kadance.