Baseball has opened doors for Daulton Jefferies throughout his life. The former Buhach Colony High School star grew up playing on elite teams, traveling to different locations for tournaments at a young age.
Eventually, baseball and academics led to a scholarship at Cal. The sophomore right-hander soon emerged as the staff ace, compiling a 6-5 record with a 2.92 ERA this season.
Those doors will continue to open for Jefferies this summer with the opportunity to pitch in the prestigious Cape Cod League and a chance to try out for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in North Carolina.
“It’s very humbling,” Jefferies said. “I try to take it with open arms. I try to keep working hard. In my mind, I haven’t proven anything yet. I’m just playing baseball. I’m trying to make a good impression for any kids watching and trying to play the way the game is supposed to be played.”
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Cal’s season ended last week with the Bears just missing out on an NCAA Super Regional berth. Texas A&M defeated Cal 3-1 on June 1 in the Regional championship. On May 30, Cal defeated the Aggies 2-1 in 14 innings to advance to the final. The next day, Texas A&M beat the Bears 4-3 in 12 innings to force a second title game.
“It was an awesome time,” Jefferies said. “I’ve never played before 12,000 people before. I grew up a lot mentally. That was probably the three best baseball games I’ve ever been a part of.”
Jefferies opened the regional by allowing one run and three hits in seven innings in a 9-3 win over Coastal Carolina. Three days after throwing a season-high 115 pitches, Jefferies pitched only a scoreless first inning in the deciding game against Texas A&M, striking out two.
During the rest of the regional, Jefferies was a cheerleader in the dugout, which meant turning his jersey into a cape and wearing a black cowboy hat late in Cal’s 2-1 win over the Aggies.
“That went viral pretty fast,” Jefferies said. “We all tried to stay loose in the dugout and we tried to have fun.”
Jefferies was a two-time Central California Conference MVP at Buhach Colony, and he had plenty of people watching from home.
“It was definitely rewarding to see a guy from our school doing well,” said Greg Wakefield, who coached Jefferies at Buhach Colony. “I was able to watch quite a bit on TV, and I saw his interview the next game. We’re all just really proud of him.”
Wakefield saw Jefferies do many of the things he did at Buhach Colony.
“He was very similar,” Wakefield said. “He was the same kid. He looked a little stronger. I think his mechanics are very similar. It was the same Daulton we had. He was very commanding on the mound, and he showed a lot of confidence.”
Jefferies will make at least one start for the Wareham Gatemen before leaving for North Carolina on June 18. Cal pitching coach Mike Neu wants to limit Jefferies to roughly 28 innings this summer after throwing 80 this spring.
“I’m really honored and excited to be a part of the legacy and tradition of the Cape Cod League,” Jefferies said. “I’ve never been there. I’m excited to go to Boston and Massachusetts. I’m a big Boston Red Sox fan.”
Jefferies then will compete with some of the top players in the country for one of 12 pitching spots on the national team. The roster will be set by June 27, and the team will play against Taiwan and Cuba. If Jefferies doesn’t make the team and still has innings left, he could return to the Cape Cod League.
“I’m excited to go,” Jefferies said. “It’s the cream of the crop, the best of the best. I hope I can be one of the guys to make the team. It would be great to represent my country and meet all these great players.”
Shawn Jansen: (209) 385-2462