ATWATER — Daulton Jefferies grew up watching some of the great players who have come through the Buhach Colony baseball program.
Players such as the Floro brothers (Brock and Dylan), Brett Mooneyham and his older brother Jake.
"They're all (Division 1 college) guys," Jefferies said. "They all contributed to the Buhach Colony program. They helped pass on the way to play to the next generation."
Jefferies' goal this year was to do the same.
As a four-year starter, Jefferies took it upon himself to set an example for the program's younger players.
"I try to play the game the way it's supposed to be played," he said. "I tried to play the game with respect and played as hard as I could."
Clearly, Jefferies played hard; his numbers prove that.
The Central California Conference MVP led the Thunder with a .423 batting average, 36 runs and 22 stolen bases. He also went 10-2 on the mound with a 0.92 ERA, striking out 141 hitters in just under 84 innings.
Once again, Jefferies is the Sun-Star Baseball Player of the Year repeating the honor he won last year.
"We've been pretty fortunate to have some pretty good players on some pretty good teams," Buhach Colony coach Greg Wakefield said. "He's definitely right there with all those guys. Like those guys, he's been fortunate to get some MVPs and other honors.
"He does so much. He's right there with a Brock Floro as a guy who pitches and plays shortstop. He's one of the top guys we've had. There's no doubt about that. He's going to be hard to lose. For me, the toughest guy to say goodbye to was his brother, because he was a catcher. Daulton might be the second toughest."
Jefferies' signature moment came in the playoffs when he took the mound against Tracy and the Bulldogs' Jonah Wesely, who recently signed with the Los Angeles Angels after getting drafted in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft this month.
Jefferies was the star of the game, striking out 16 hitters and pitching into the eighth. He also scored two of the Thunder's three runs as BC defeated Tracy 3-2 in nine innings.
"That was one of the top five games I've ever played in my life," Jefferies said. "Going up against a Jonah Wesely, who is a Major League draft guy. I remember Wake telling us to go out and play like we weren't going to get to play again. That's what I did.
"The atmosphere was intense. I heard there were about six scouts there for Jonah and myself. It was a lot of fun."
The Miami Marlins took Jefferies in the 39th round of the draft. However, he's likely to take a scholarship to Cal, which recruited him as both a pitcher and a position player.
He's so good on the mound and in the field, it's tough to predict Jefferies' future.
"I've talked to a few scouts and like everyone else I've gone back and forth," Wakefield said. "At the beginning of the season, he was incredible for us at shorstop. He made some incredible plays those first eight games. He was swinging the bat well and making all the plays you need to make up the middle.
"Then as the year went on he just got stronger and stronger on the mound. I've had scouts tell me they really like him as a pitcher and I've had others say they really think he could be a major league middle infielder. I'm happy he's going to get the opportunity to pursue both. I think it'll take care of itself. I couldn't tell you which one he'll end up playing."
Sun-Star All-Area Baseball Team
Carlo Del Real, Infield, Le Grand
Brandon Young, Infield, Buhach Colony
Efrain Del Rio, Infield, Dos Palos
Dalton Beatty, Infield, Atwater
Matt Parker, Catcher, Atwater
Delvonte Moore, Outfield Los Banos
Omar Sierra, Pitcher, Pacheco
Ryan Sanchez, Pitcher, Atwater
Corbin Lilledahl, Outfield, Los Banos
David Vidauri, Utility, Golden Valley
Vic Tiscareno, DH, Atwater
Matt Smith, Pitcher, Merced
Kaden Verdin, Pitcher, Buhach Colony
Shawn Heath-Smith, Infield, Merced