Prep Baseball: South’s Shore signs
By Mike London
LANDIS ó Penni Shore will need to buy enough scorebooks to last four more years.
Caleb Shore, the last of South Rowan’s swift Shore brothers, signed recently with Division II Belmont Abbey.
“My mind changed completely about Belmont Abbey once I went there on a visit,” Shore said. “They made me feel comfortable and wanted, and it’s only about an hour away.”
Shore was close to going to UNC Wilmington as a student and giving up baseball, but his career is still alive, and that means his mother will continue to keep score.
Penni and her scorebook have become such a familiar sight at South games that people have started referring to her baseball binder as the “Shorebook.”
Tracking three boys ó Ronnie, Brett and Caleb ó she’s documented South varsity games since 1999, South Legion games since 2000 and Davidson games since 2003.
Ronnie graduated from Davidson after an outstanding career as an infielder and played pro ball overseas.
Bret, a rising senior, is Davidson’s center fielder. He hit .313 as a junior.
Like South and Davidson, Belmont Abbey’s primary colors are red and black, so Penni won’t need a new wardrobe ó just new scorebooks. Her boys have worn out a few books and a few pencils.
Scoring runs is what they do. Heading into Monday’s Legion game, the Shore siblings had crossed the plate 619 times.
That’s 195 times for South Rowan High, 222 times for South Rowan Legion teams and 202 times for Davidson.
Ronnie scored 89 runs at South Rowan High, more than any Raider who graduated in this century.
Brett’s 94 runs for the Legion program was a record until Daniel Wagner broke it last year with 100.
Caleb has never put up staggering statistics like his brothers, but he’s as athletic as his siblings.
“Whenever we’ve raced, I don’t think I’ve ever beaten them, but I can keep up,” he said. “It’s been tough to follow them. You’ve got to kind of build up to the kind of reputation they had and I don’t know that I was ever able to do it. Not yet.”
Now things are starting to fall into place for him physically and mentally. He’s had a great summer, leading South’s Legion team in runs (26), RBIs (26), doubles (nine) and steals (12).
Shore also has five homers and two triples while batting .312. His brothers hit for loftier averages, but they weren’t power hitters.
Caleb is. Between high school and Legion, he’s belted 15 homers in his career, mostly no-doubt-about-it bombs. His swing is longer than Ronnie’s or Brett’s. He makes less frequent contact, but he generates more extra-base hits.
Caleb gets hitting advice from his oldest brother and also from his father, who is also named Ronnie.
Caleb’s father is a South graduate and made the 1975 all-county football team as a 5-foot-6, 160-pound linebacker. That means he had speed and desire, traits that were passed on to his sons.
Ronnie had as much desire as any player in the county in this decade. He lived, breathed, ate and slept baseball.
Brett really liked baseball and played it brilliantly, but it wasn’t life and death.
“Then Caleb comes along, and he could take it or leave it,” his father said with a sigh.
Ronnie was starting for South’s high school varsity immediately. On opening day of the 1999 season, the freshman led off and played third base against East Rowan.
Brett got the call to the varsity midway through his freshman year at South in 2002. Ronnie was a senior shortstop then, and Brett took over second base as his double-play partner.
Things didn’t come as easily for Caleb, who spent his freshman season on the jayvees. Then he had surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor from a knee when he was a sophomore.
“It had really swollen up,” Shore said. “That slowed me up some that year.”
Shore played mostly third base his last two years of high school, batting .280 with 13 RBIs as a junior and .270 with 14 RBIs as a senior.
Pretty good numbers, but not great numbers and definitely not Shore numbers. It appeared his career might end with this Legion season.
“I think it hit me during my senior year that this might be it,” Shore said. “I started working a lot harder, really started to take baseball seriously for the first time.”
Now that he’s committed to baseball, he could become a college standout. He’s a gifted athlete, as his brief track experience this spring showed.
“I was in P.E. with B.J. Grant, one of the best high jumpers in the state,” Shore said. “He wanted me to go down to the track with him and put the bar back up for him when it fell. Then he said, ‘Hey, why don’t you try it?’ ”
Shore did, and found he could clear respectable heights easily. He entered the Rowan County Meet a few days later. Grant won the event. Shore finished third by clearing 6 feet.
“Two more inches, and I’d have qualified for the regional,” Shore said with a grin.
Shore can run, and South Legion coach David Wright employs him to cover the vast area in right field at the South diamond.
“Caleb can track a flyball, and from start to finish, he runs as well as any kid that I’ve ever coached,” Wright said. “I don’t think he’s ever gotten the publicity or the honors or the garnishments that his brothers did, but he’s going to be taking a lot of skills to Belmont Abbey.”
Besides his legs and bat, Shore’s right arm intrigues Belmont Abbey.
Shore learned to throw submarine under the tutelage of former UNC All-American Thad Chrismon and experienced success in a relief role. He won twice as a junior and had a 3.28 ERA and one save as a senior.
Chris Anderson, a former Catawba player who is Belmont Abbey’s pitching coach, is familiar with all the Shores from the years he served as the pitching coach for the South Legion team and believes Shore could help the Crusaders on the mound.
Shore will join a Conference Carolinas program that is on the rise. Belmont Abbey won 41 games in 2008 and qualified for the South Atlantic Regional.
Former South Rowan outfielder Patrick Atwell will be a fifth-year player at Belmont Abbey and can teach the latest Shore the ropes.
Shore’s siblings have set the bar very high, but Caleb is ready to start catching up.
On the field and in his mother’s scorebook.
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