Fossil Ridge athlete an all-star in multiple sports

Posted Monday, Jun. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fossil Ridge’s Sheldon Neuse had a big problem in high school.

He was just too athletic.

Not only was he an outstanding power-hitting shortstop and pitcher for the baseball team, he excelled in football as the team’s quarterback.

Ultimately, he chose to follow the baseball path, accepting a scholarship to play at Oklahoma, and took Ridge’s baseball team to the regional semifinals during his senior season this year.

His talent on the football field, athletically and as a leader, impressed Ridge’s head football coach Tony Baccarini so much that he could only compare the dual-sport athlete to another former baseball player who took the football route in college.

“The best example I can give you is watching Johnny Manziel play – I see Sheldon Neuse, from a quarterback standpoint, (that way),” Baccarini said.

Athletic ability was a given to Baccarini after watching him play, but what separated the former quarterback was his willingness to be a leader of men for the football team. He set the standard and demanded nothing less than the best from his teammates, the football coach said.

“He was one of those guys that if you weren’t doing the right thing, he challenged you on it because he knew he was going to do the right stuff and he wanted you to follow his lead,” he said.

That leadership extended to his successor at quarterback, Jacob Gnacinski, who used lessons taught by Neuse and the early experience he received during spring ball when the future Sooner was leading the Ridge baseball team, he said.

Neuse was able to showcase that baseball prowess on June 9, participating in the North Texas High School Baseball Coach’s Association All-Star Game at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie. In his four at-bats, Neuse was one of four players on the West squad to pick up multiple hits in the game. While playing both middle infield positions, Neuse roped a double off the left field wall in the fifth inning and followed it up with a two-out single in the eighth.

While his West team dropped the game 7-3, the game meant so much more to Neuse than wins, losses or stats. It was a chance to celebrate a young baseball career with friends and former teammates.

Neuse said he had the chance to play with many of the all-star game’s participants on various summer leagues and at camps throughout the years and the early-June game was like a family reunion of sorts, celebrating all the athlete’s accomplishments on the diamond.

He said his favorite part of the game was hitting that double, but not for the hit tally in box score, but in the time he was able to socialize while on base.

“When I got on second, talking to [David] Martinelli and those kind of guys,” Neuse said. “I’ve played with them or against them. It’s just a bunch of old friends playing baseball.”

Neuse heads to Norman in August, but not after a very busy summer of select baseball in which he’ll get a day off every two or three weeks while playing college teams and other high school select teams around the country.

The goal is to make it to the big leagues some day, which he hopes is ultimately the same destination for many of his North Texas all-star friends.

“I’m looking forward to these guys growing up and seeing what they can do,” Neuse said. “Hopefully I’ll see a lot of them in the pro system if I get there myself.”

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