Etowah, Creekview standouts sign to join Yellow Jackets
by Chris Byess
December 07, 2012 01:04 AM | 3450 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
03-04-11 --Creekview at Walton 03-- Creekview's Ryan Zentko pitches during Friday's win over Walton. STAFF/JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN
03-04-11 --Creekview at Walton 03-- Creekview's Ryan Zentko pitches during Friday's win over Walton. STAFF/JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN
The Georgia Tech baseball team’s recruiting class for the 2014 season — projected to be a top-five recruiting class nationally — will have a local flavor as Etowah’s Tanner Shelton and Creekview’s Ryan Zentko recently signed to play for the Yellow Jackets.

Shelton, a 6-foot-1 left-hander, is ranked as one of the top five left-handed pitchers in the state and among the top 50 nationally.

A member of East Cobb Baseball’s 18U Perfect Game national championship team this past summer, Shelton was also named an Under Armour third-team underclass All-American.

The 6-7 Zentko, who will take the field for the Grizzlies this spring as both a starting pitcher and the team’s cleanup hitter, was one of 22 players nationwide to be listed as a top academic prospect by Perfect Game.

Though Shelton and Zentko have one more year of high school ball left to play, they both said they’re looking forward to representing Georgia Tech.

“I am so excited to play for the Yellow Jackets,” said Shelton, who is projected to be Etowah’s No. 1 starter in the spring. “I can’t wait to get out there.”

“I’m already thinking about that first fall at Tech,” Zentko said.

Shelton first caught the eyes of Georgia Tech’s coaching staff when he attended a baseball camp on the campus the summer after his sophomore year.

One day after a practice session, he was approached by the Yellow Jackets’ pitching coach at the time, Tom Kinkelaar, who told Shelton that they were interested in recruiting him.

Then, later that summer, Shelton received a call from Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall and was offered a scholarship before his junior year even began.

“I was stunned,” Shelton of the offer. “I couldn’t believe that I got the offer.”

Though Shelton is trying to focus on his final season at Etowah, he said that he already had goals in mind for his college career.

“I’m hoping to work my way into the starting lineup,” Shelton said. “Coach Hall mentioned that as a possibility, and that’s my goal.”

For Zentko, had Hall not been taking a look at another player on Zentko’s 6-4-3 DP Academy summer team last year, he may have never even been noticed.

“Coach Hall was there while I was on a hot streak,” Zentko said. “That game, I pitched two innings and gave up zero runs while going 5-for-5 from the plate. The next day, I got a call and was offered a visit.”

What happened at his visit caught Zentko completely by surprise — as soon as he sat down to talk with Hall, he was offered a scholarship on the spot, despite the fact that Hall had only seen him play once.

“I was dumbfounded,” Zentko said. “I couldn’t even say anything back. I had expected them to say that they would keep an eye on me, but they cut right to the chase.”

Much like Shelton, Zentko has already formed goals for his first college season, which include playing as a freshman and seeing time on the field as a reliever.

Though both Shelton and Zentko both have tall tasks ahead of them to break into Tech’s talent-laden squad, their high school coaches seem confident that they can do so.

“We expect big things out of Tanner,” Etowah coach Greg Robinson said. “He has the right stuff. We expect him to carry his high school success into the college ranks.”

Creekview’s Mike Nayman said Zentko “has come such a long way in four years.”

“I knew he was going to be a terrific player when he started Game 3 of our first-round playoff series against eventual state runner-up Ringgold his freshman year,” Nayman added. “He went out and threw strikes all day long. I was just so impressed by his moxie and poise. He is going to be a terrific match for the coaches at Tech with his baseball IQ.”
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