Shetley enjoying stellar season
Braxton Shetley’s career in an East Davidson baseball uniform is quickly winding down. The 2-A state playoffs begin this Friday and the Golden Eagles are definitely in the hunt for a championship. Win or lose, it has been a storybook season already for the multi-talented senior.
Not only has he helped the Golden Eagles go undefeated in the Central Carolina Conference, but he also added a fine performance in the tournament championship game as East blanked West Davidson 5-0. That night he had three hits and drove in three runs, all while pitching the entire seven innings and striking out 11.
“We work hard every day as a team and two of our goals were to go undefeated in conference and win it,” said Shetley, a recent addition to the UNC-Pembroke program. “Now we are going to go as far as we can in state’s and hopefully win it.”
With a 6-1 record on the hill, Shetley has some unbelievable pitching stats. In 44 innings of work, he has struck out 68 batters and walked just 16. There have been three runs scored on him the entire year — one earned run — giving him a near perfect 0.16 ERA. In CCC play he did not allow an earned run, facing some of the top hitters in the league from Salisbury, West and Central. It is a complete turnaround from his junior season.
In 2012, Shetley went 3-5 with a 4.71 ERA while yielding 33 earned runs. He struggled for much of the year up until the playoffs when the Eagles got hot and made a run into the fourth round.
“Last year I was trying to strike too many people out,” said Shetley, who uses only a fastball, curve and changeup. “This year I am believing more in my defense behind me and throwing more strikes. In the offseason I threw two bullpen sessions every week and took a couple of lessons. Coach (Brian) Gusa has helped me on my mechanics and hitting my spots more instead of just throwing the ball.”
His rise in success does not stop on the bump. At the dish, Shetley has turned a .236 average last season into a .403 mark — .600 in the CCC. His 27 hits is second best on the team and Shetley has driven in 16 runs. No hit was more important than his first of three against the Green Dragons.
In the bottom of the first inning with two runners on, Shetley drove a ball to center to score both. The 2-0 lead was plenty for him to work with.
“I changed my approach and just tried to get base hits and not hit the ball far,” Shetley said. “I worked a lot in the offseason to get better. I’ve gotten better with my balance and sitting back on the ball and not jumping on everything.”
Head Coach Dan Tricarico has been impressed by his efforts to improve all four years in high school.
“Braxton has been phenomenal and I do not remember anybody since I have been involved in this conference, that has actually posted a 0.00 ERA during the season, especially against the top three teams,” Tricarico said. “Hitting the ball, he has gotten us some clutch hits and it is satisfying as a coach to see him develop over the last few years. It is just a testament to his hard work and love for the game.”
East is battle tested and ready for another deep postseason run. In games against Central and West, the Eagles have needed late comebacks to pull out a victory. But just as the Eagles were making a comeback at East Rutherford in the playoffs last year, weather conditions halted the game and resulted in East being eliminated. That is a position Shetley and his teammates hope not to be in as they begin their run at a state title Friday.
“This team never gives up,” said Shetley. We keep working and the game is never over until the end. After what happened last year, we want to get ahead early. So if it does happen we will come out on top this time.”
East will host T.W. Andrews at 7 p.m. Friday in the opening round.