Conroe’s Greg Belton turns heads at Junior Sunbelt Classic
Conroe’s Greg Belton tries to turn a double play against Oak Ridge during a game in Belton’s sophomore season with the Tigers. Belton recently hit .480 in the Junior Sunbelt Classic All Star tournament in McAlester, Okla.
By Keith MacPherson
Given a days notice about an All Star tournament played in a state away, Greg Belton didn’t have time be nervous.
So when Conroe coach Frank Romero called Belton early in the morning the day before the Junior Sunbelt Classic baseball tournament in McAlester, Okla., Belton and his family adjusted their schedules and went for it.
The six hour trip that began at 5 a.m. paid off for Belton whose bat sizzled throughout the 14th edition of the tournament that hosts some of the top high school juniors from nine different states and Canada and gives players a chance to hone their skills against some of the top competition in the nation.
“It was pretty cool,” Belton said. “I didn’t think I had the greatest year but when I found out they selected me, I was pretty happy about it.”
Belton didn’t disappoint either. He would hit .480 in 25 at bats including two home runs, 10 RBIs and five runs scored while playing for team Texas. After the tournament he was rewarded by being named to the All-Tournament team.
“I was completely focused the whole time,” Belton said. “I was seeing the ball really well. It was like they couldn’t throw anything by me.”
Belton and team Texas would represent that state well in the tournament, finishing in fourth place out of 11 teams.
During the 2010 season Belton showed signs of power including hitting a moon shot in the team’s season-opening win over Alief Elsik but the two home runs kind of came as a surprise he admitted.
“The first pitcher was throwing kind of slow so I was trying to stay back. I think I kind of got lucky on that one,” Belton said. “The second one was a fastball inside and I was able to hit it over the left field wall.”
One thing that isn’t a surprise for Romero is the success that Belton had at the tournament.
“He’s been working really hard,” Romero said. “I think back to when he was a freshman and talking to him about what he had to do to get better. We knew he had to get stronger and faster. You see him now and it’s obvious he’s done those things.”
Romero said that the added pressure of playing against some of the best players in the country only helped Belton’s confidence.
“I think anytime you’re in a situation like that where you’re playing the best of the best, it brings the best out of you,” he said.
The versatile Belton spent most of the 2010 season playing shortstop and a little time on the mound but found himself on the hot corner at third base during the tournament.
With the tournament past him, Belton will play the remainder of the summer with the Allen Baseball Club but the surprise call for the All Star tournament in Oklahoma is something he’ll always remember.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I had a great time. I just went up there and played the best baseball I could.”