Committed As Ever

Dalton Dulin committed to Ole Miss baseball last fall, when he was still only a sophomore at Memphis University School. He's as committed now as he was back then, and maybe even more, if that's possible.

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"I'm very excited about it," the infielder who turned 17 in May said. "I love the atmosphere, and I like the way things are done there."

Obviously Dulin understands the way things are done as far as amateur baseball. He's been around the game all his life. His father, Tim, owns Dulins Sports Complex in Memphis, where the main focus is developing baseball talent.

This summer, Dalton had several opportunities with the Dulins team he played for and also other teams to get more experience and contribute to those squads.

"The summer was great," he said. "I was on the road for like a month at one point and never came home. We faced some good competition. We got a lot done, and I got a feel for some of the things I need to work on."

It was at the end of the summer that the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Dulin made his biggest push. That's when he played in the prestigious Area Code Games alongside some other future Ole Miss players. Most of them were seniors, but a handful of juniors were invited – including Dulin.

"I was fortunate enough to go out there and play with some of the best upcoming seniors in the country," he said of the series of games held in Long Beach, Calif.

"There was only like 15 juniors, including myself, that got the opportunity to go down there. Every pitcher I faced was like 90 to 95 (miles per hour). We got to face some of the top pitchers in the country. There's a bunch of good guys out there, and it's not easy. You just have to keep working hard all the time."

Normally a shortstop, Dulin played second base in the Area Code Games. That's because on his team Avery Romero, a senior committed to the Florida Gators, played shortstop.

During the games in California, Dulin picked up one of the daily awards, claiming defensive player of the day at one point. Dulin said the California experience was a positive for his development in the game.

Dalton Dulin

"During the summer we faced some of the best teams in the country. At the Area Code Games, we faced really the best players in the country and it was a humbling experience to be honest with you," said Dulin, joined on his team by Rebel commits Cheyne Bickel, a junior pitcher, and Brady Bramlett, a senior pitcher. Senior Cameron Dishon, an Ole Miss commitment and the brother of former Rebel player Tim Ferguson, was also a teammate at the Games. Dulin and Bickel were the only juniors on their team. Some eight future Ole Miss players total were there.

"They're coming right at you. You have to find a way to survive," Dulin continued, talking about the talent at the Area Code Games. "It was like a pro-type field playing in those games, because we had so many pitchers coming in. Every pitcher was fresh and ready to go. They also had the best catchers in the country, so I had my work cut out for me when I had to steal."

In one game this summer in Oxford for his Dulin's team against the East Cobb (Ga,) Yankees' 18-year-old team, Dulin stole six bags.

"I'm right now like a 6.6 or 6.7 seconds in the 60," Dulin said. "I'm trying to improve my speed even more."

But that's not all. Obviously he's looking to become a better all-around player as his still-young career takes off.

"I'm trying to get better on my right-handed swing. I'm a natural left-hander," he said. "Those are the main areas I want to work on and try to get better."

Dulin will get another opportunity next month to compete at the highest amateur level again. He was selected for the USA NTIS trials in Cary, N.C., for the upcoming 18-year-old team, the USA Stars. Dulin knows the importance of competing and playing with and against this level of players.

"The guys out there that are going to SEC schools, they're out there working every day," he said. "You just have to approach it that someone else is working harder than you are. You have to let that motivate you to keep grinding day in and day out. You just have to find a way to separate yourself from the pack."

According to those who know him, that certainly is the way Dulin approaches the game.

"He's what I call a baller," said MUS coach Johnny Beard. "He's a dirtbag and plays every play hard. When he gets through playing a game, he's dirty and got elbows scarred and knees scarred up. He's real intense and he knows the game. He's a leader on the field. And his speed, when he gets on base, he drives the other team crazy."

"He's mentally prepared to play," said Jim Crawford, a scout for the Chicago Cubs. "Many don't have any idea how to prepare mentally. He does. He's got good, soft hands, he's got speed, and he's a worker. He's got a chance to be a special player."

Dulin and Bickel, a Floridian who has played with Dulins the past two years, have become close friends. Both have another two years of high school before heading to college. And then, of course, there is always the draft, which for them will be in June, 2013. Both dream of playing professional baseball, but Dulin can envision them playing for the Ole Miss Rebels.

"Me and Bickel have the same dreams," Dulin said. "We'll see how that plays out. The draft will be real interesting my year just to see how everything pans out. I've been recruiting (others for Ole Miss). If me and Bickel show up at Ole Miss, we're going to have some thunder, I'm telling you. We're going to have the best class in the country. We're going to make that happen. I'm looking forward to big things."

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