Bellingham High’s Austin Shenton Weathers Injury, Looks to Summer Baseball and a Future Career

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By Stacee Sledge

Bellingham High School sophomore Austin Shenton has his eyes on the prize: a career in baseball.

And although it’s a common dream for most kids after they smack that first ball off a tee, Shenton has a real shot at it; he’s developed as a player in a way very few do.

austin shenton baseball

But first he’s got to get back in the game.

Shenton is finishing up a six-month rehab of a knee injury that required surgery last September after he was hurt playing quarterback in his first high school football game.

“It was my first varsity game because freshman year I decided not to play. I didn’t want to get hurt,” Shenton says with a small laugh.

He describes his knee bending inward during a sideline tackle where his foot got stuck in the ground. “I heard a pop and thought I’d dislocated it,” he says. “It popped back in and I got right back up but it was very, very painful.”

A trip to the emergency room brought a probable diagnosis of a sprained MCL and Shenton thought he’d be back on the football field in a week or two.

“But then I went to my physical therapist and he told me he thought I tore my MCL and probably my ACL as well,” Shenton remembers.

He went in for an MRI on Friday and got the news on Monday: a torn ACL and NCL meniscus, as well as an impaction fracture where his tibia and fibula hit together during the tackle.

“And I’d just been walking around on that!” he says, incredulously. “I was in a lot of pain but was trying to toughen through it.”

After surgery – performed by Dr. John Green with the University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine – Shenton missed two weeks of school.

But a homecoming prince nomination meant that two days post-surgery, he was wheeled into the gym for an assembly. “I was on pain pills and out of it,” he says.

The days after surgery were initially difficult for Shenton, who had expected to be playing football and hoped to start on the basketball team, as well.

austin shenton baseball

“It was emotionally pretty hard early on, but then I thought of all the people who would have wished they’d only busted up their knee and that made me not feel bad anymore,” he says. “I have it pretty darn good.”

Shenton attended all the games he could over the fall and winter seasons. “That was pretty hard sometimes,” he admits. “I just tried to cheer on all my teammates and be there for them. That’s what I’m trying to do this baseball season, too.”

Unable to workout for the first few months after surgery, Shenton is now – finally – back at it.

“It’s crazy,” he says, “but I’ve gotten stronger than I’ve ever been. It’s really altered my work ethic and made me count my blessings a little bit more.”

He wishes he could be more a part of the Bellingham High baseball team right now, but is focused solely on rehabbing his knee. “I just want to get myself better and healthy,” he says, “because I want to be back.”

Shenton may not be cleared in time to play spring ball with his Bellingham High team, but he fully intends to be on the field again this summer which, judging from previous years, could take him anywhere from Arizona to North Carolina to Florida.

Shenton’s evolution through baseball is remarkable.

He began, as so many kids do, by playing T-ball at the Whatcom Family YMCA at five years old.

“And then I started falling in love with it the next year,” Shenton says, “when I played with the Boys & Girls Club.”

He went on to play competitively through the Boys & Girls Club, and was selected, at 13 years old, to play on a 14-year-old team in the area called the Northwest Rebels.

He was chosen second team all-state his freshman year at Bellingham High and hit .420 during his first high school season.

austin shenton baseball

“The next year I played for Cascade Crush,” he says. “That was the year I kind of separated myself from a lot of the players around here.”

That summer Shenton played 45 games, had 25 home runs and hit .700.

Later that same 2012 season, he was invited to play on Team Northwest, an organization that picks the most talented players from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

In Atlanta that summer, Shenton hit .538 – top five in the tournament, which was made up of the top 16 14U teams in the nation.

“That was when I started realizing I was fairly good at this game,” Shenton says, with a chuckle.

Summer of 2013 found Shenton again playing with Team Northwest. He also played in the Junior Olympic tournament in Arizona, a tryout for Team USA. He was selected for the 15U USA Team and went 18 for 24 in the tournament.

Shenton was then selected to be one of just 40 players taking part in last summer’s USA Baseball 15U National Trials.

During the weeklong visit to North Carolina for trials, the 40 players were whittled down to 20 who went on to Colombia to play in the Pan American Classic against teams like the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

“I didn’t end up making that,” Shenton says. “I kind of slumped.”

But he plans to try again this year.

Shenton also plays on for the 18U Baden team in Seattle, traveling around the state and playing a lot of summer games.

austin shenton baseball

If it sounds like his summers are jam-packed, they are.

“It’s pretty crazy sometimes,” Shenton says. “I was gone 35 days last summer. I’ve got to thank my parents for paying for all of it and supporting me all the time.”

Shenton would love to get drafted out of high school, though he’s also talked to a lot of Division I colleges who have taken notice.

“Ultimately, my ideal dream would be to get drafted top five rounds out of high school and basically go on to minor leagues and try to pursue a career in baseball,” he says. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

For a young man with every reason to boast about his baseball trajectory, Shenton strives to remain humble.

“I try to be modest,” he says. “I want people to see me, not just a baseball player or athlete. I want people to recognize me as a nice, genuine guy, you know?”

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