When preseason baseball practices began yesterday (Monday) at Payson High School, senior Ashton Shewey was celebrating his scholarship signing with the University of Arizona Wildcats.
The hard-throwing left hander also has left the door open for a possible professional baseball career.
It's possible, he said, that next spring -- when the professional baseball draft is held -- he could be among those high school athletes selected.
Shewey says he's been contacted by some pro scouts including representatives of the Phillies, Mets and Diamondbacks.
If he is drafted and the money is right, Shewey says he might go directly to the pros. His other option is to continue to hone his skills at the University of Arizona and then make himself eligible for the draft.
To better prepare himself for a shot at the big time, Shewey gave up his prep football career last summer to concentrate on baseball.
"Quitting football was tough, especially when I went to games," he said. Last season, he was a starting linebacker for the Longhorns.
Away from the gridiron, Shewey focused on baseball as a member of Team Arizona. The squad, made up of aspiring college players from around the state, traveled to Nevada, Alaska, California and Washington to participate in tournaments.
The team spent two weeks in Anchorage competing in an Alaska league that drew some of the finest teams in the U.S.
"We finished second there and were second in Seattle," Shewey said. "At Las Vegas, we were first."
In addition to pitching for Team Arizona, Shewey served as a designated hitter, putting together a .384 batting average, he said.
His most effective pitches during the tournaments were a slider and a fastball that, he says, "is now fast enough that I can throw it by kids."
In addition to playing in the exhibitions and tournaments, Shewey has enlisted the services of pitching coach Cliff Robinson.
But before there can be a university or professional career in his future, Shewey is being counted on to be the Longhorns' ace pitcher this season. He's projecting the team could have enough talent to play deep into the state tournament.
"We'll be young, but we'll be pretty good," he said.
If Shewey is drafted into the professional ranks as he anticipates, he would be only the second Longhorn baseball player to ever earn that distinction. Tom Canale was drafted several years ago by the Cleveland Indians, but has since stepped away from his pro career.
Former Longhorn pitcher Jeremy Heairet recently traveled to Australia to play for a semi-pro team. He has said he's hoping the exposure gained Down Under will eventually earn him a shot at a pro career.
According to PHS coach Teddy Pettet, Heairet will continue to play in Australia for another two months.