December 29, 2007

Walton is back home

UW-Whitewater got an early Christmas present this year. There's a Division 1 talent coming in to play baseball for the Warhawks.

Montaous Walton, a 2003 grad of Milwaukee Madison High School, made his decision to go to Eastern Michigan to play ball with the Eagles. Walton not only drew interest from Midwestern schools like Toledo and St. Cloud State, but also from Division 2 schools San Francisco State and North Alabama. Division 1 schools South Florida joined Minnesota and Purdue in the recruiting race. Ultimately, Walton had five scholarship offers to choose from: Kansas, Alabama, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and Eastern Michigan.

Eastern Michigan, then led by head coach Roger Coryell, won Walton's services. "Coach Coryell cared more about his players as a person," Walton commented. "Coach Coryell really kept in touch with me and followed my junior and senior years of high school," he added. "He also stuck with me when I was having academic difficulty before arriving there on campus."

Walton didn't burst out of the gates offensively as a high school player, but made his presence known just the same. As a freshman at Milwaukee Madison, he recorded 7 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. He bumped those numbers to 12 and 10 respectively in his sophomore year, while increasing his batting average nearly 100 points to .315. As Walton mentioned earlier, Coach Coryell took notice of him in 2002 and 2003. Walton was a junior in '02 and led the conference in steals with 14, garnering him an Honorable Mention All-Conference nod. He moved up to 2nd team All-Conference his senior year with a .392 batting average, which led the team, 15 stolen bases, and 16 RBIs.

After sitting out of one season, getting sparse time in '05, and limited time in '06, Walton finally made his mark on the Eagles' squad in his junior year. "I had a breakout season with 22 stolen bases which was a season high for me, with 14 RBI and a .323 batting average." It wasn't just being able to play that made the year fun for Walton. "I even had a chance to match up against Central Michigan's talented pitcher and a close friend of mine, James Ricchio." You may know Ricchio as a Racine Case grad who has become one of the top closers in the Mid-American Conference.

Unfortunately for EMU, priorities have changed in Walton's life. "There were a lot of things that really made me want to come a little closer home to further my education." Walton talked with his mentors and his mom, and he made the big choice. "Then I made a decision to play ball and continue my education in my home state. So after the school year ended at Eastern Michigan, I started shopping around for certain colleges within the state" UW-Milwaukee was in the running for a brief time, but the interest deteriorated when Jerry Augustine resigned as head coach of the Panther program.

Whitewater had a big edge fro the get-go. "Other schools were loaded with outfielders already," explained Walton, "after being recruited and speaking with the Coaches at the University of Whitewater, I made my decision to go there…the school has great baseball tradition with a great Journalism program, which is my major"

Walton is joining a very solid program, which won the Division 3 Championship back in 2005. He may not add much to the middle of the order; however Walton should add a good glove to the outfield, and tremendous speed wherever he winds up in the lineup.

"2004 was very tough for me academically, but despite that, Division 1 coaches were still willing to give me a chance and I appreciate that." That's one thing you can count on with Walton is that he will appreciate every chance he gets with the Warhawks.

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