Kaiden Shelton will receive the chance of a lifetime this week, as the Manvel youth and his 12-year old Pearland All-Star teammates travel to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to compete at the Little League Baseball World Series, Aug. 17-28.
Pearland opens its tourney road by playing the Mid-Atlantic Champion Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania in a first-round game in the United States bracket, Thursday at 6 p.m. at Lamade Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN 2.
Kaiden’s mother, Melody Shelton, said her son has been playing baseball since the age of four and “absolutely loves the sport.”
“It’s just been a great ride for him and he’s so thrilled to be able to go to Williamsport,” she said. “This has always been a dream for him since he was four. This is a special group of boys and they just fit in so great with their different personalities.”
Shelton said that the team’s coaches sensed there was something special about this group during all-star tryouts with several kids in the Pearland area vying for spots on the team.
“They were saying this was the most athletic group of kids they had ever seen,” she said.
Pearland soon proved their coaches’ assessment to be correct, winning the District 15 and Sectional titles and then capturing the state championship in Tyler to earn a berth to the Southwest Regional Tournament in Waco.
The All-Stars then proceeded to post victories over Arkansas (14-2), Mississippi (6-4), Texas West (19-0) and Oklahoma (9-4), outscoring their opponents by a staggering 48-10 margin in the process.
Kaiden Shelton drove in a pair of runs in the championship game against Oklahoma on Aug. 9 to help Pearland punch their magical ticket to Williamsport and was also involved in a scary moment earlier in the contest.
Starting the game on the mound, Sheldon plunked Oklahoma’s Isaiah Jarvis on the top of helmet in the bottom of the first inning. Sheldon was visibly shaken by Jarvis not only immediately getting up after being hit, but also by the quick friendship the pair had developed during the week,” Melody Shelton said.
Jarvis was fortunately able to get up from the incident and trot over to first base. When seeing Shelton was still upset over the chain of events, Jarvis quickly jogged over to the mound, hugging Sheldon to assure him everything was all right.
The classic sportsmanship moment between Shelton and Jarvis also became viral, airing several times over the internet.
“The kids from all the teams got very close, because they were staying in the same hotel for five or six days,” she said. “They became friends and were exchanging social media accounts. Kaiden and Isaiah especially got close and Kaiden was so shaken when Isaiah got hit and didn’t get up at first. He had hit kids before, but not in the head.
“Kaiden didn’t even know Isaiah was approaching him (from first base), but Isaiah just hugged him and told him, he’s got this and to throw strikes.”
The double elimination tourney concludes with both the U.S. and international championship games being played on Aug. 27 with the winners advancing to meet for the LLBWS crown on Aug. 28.