E.A. Sports Today

Bolton on the ball

Former Oxford athlete joins Yellow Jackets’ baseball program as the county’s first female assistant coach in the sport

Anna Bolton played multiple sports during her days at Oxford. Now that she’s back as a teacher, she will use that experience and knowledge as an assistant coach in the baseball program.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Wes Brooks has always embraced new ideas on the baseball diamond and Friday he became the master innovator once again.

Among the three new assistant coaches on Brooks’ Oxford coaching staff is the first female high school baseball coach in Calhoun County and maybe even the state. Former Oxford athlete Anna Bolton will serve as the program’s tech/data/analytics specialist as well as having on-field responsibilities.

“It’s pretty neat to me, too; I think what I’ll be doing is very exciting,” Bolton said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but once I sat down with Coach Brooks and talked about what my roles looked like and all that, it became intriguing because I love technology type things and that’s kind of what I’ll be doing.”

Bolton played all the sports at Oxford growing up. She returned to the school system in January after graduating from Auburn the month before and teaches sixth-grade math at C.E. Hanna Elementary. She’s been working with the baseball program since June.

“I really wasn’t going to do anything this year, but I guess he was pretty convincing,” she said. “I wanted to do something with basketball or golf but I didn’t have time and I just ended up talking to him and it just kind of happened.”

Bolton, 22, is one of three new assistants on Brooks’ baseball staff. Earlier in the week he introduced Dalton Rone and Brandon Slick to the community. Slick was the shortstop on Brooks’ first team as a head coach at Wellborn.

She will be responsible for overseeing and analyzing the baseball program’s Blast Motion and Rapsodo technology, pouring over the numbers and presenting them in a relatable manner in an effort to make the Jackets’ pitchers and hitters more efficient, freeing Brooks to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the game.

“The data technology will not speak overnight,” Brooks said. “It’s going to speak 500, 700, 800, 900 swings from now what a guy is doing. To me, a hitter is hot, getting hot, cold or getting cold, and if we can see that a hitter is getting cold because of something she’s looking at, I think that is really neat.”

But the 2018 Oxford grad will be more than a numbers cruncher. She’ll also be hands-on with the Yellow Jackets’ catchers and hitters. She caught for the Lady Jackets’ softball team.

“When I mentioned it to our principal and athletics director, there wasn’t a hiccup or a question; it was just yes sir,” Brooks said. “I told her for this first year let’s take it slow, take two or three days a week. She walked out there one day about 6 o’clock in the morning. It really wasn’t awkward. She didn’t look intimidated. She had a clipboard, she had a stopwatch and took it all down.

“After two days of the tryouts she said I think I can run tryouts next year. That, to me, made the whole deal worth it. When she made that comment I felt like she was in.”

Roles for women are on the rise in baseball. Kim Ng made history in Miami as the first female GM in major-league history. Rachel Balkovec became the first female minor league manager when the Yankees put her in charge of their Low-A Tampa affiliate. Bolton is excited about where her new adventure might take her.

“You never know where it could take you,” Bolton said. “It’ll be cool just to experience and see how it goes. I was telling my future husband we might get to move to Atlanta and work with the Braves. That’s a big dream, but you never know.”

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