By Kevin Adshade
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. - Dylan Holton has played NCAA baseball for just one season, but he already can call himself a national champion.
A designated hitter with the NCAA Division II's Mount Olive College Trojans, Holton, 20, delivered a first-inning, three-run double in the championship game on Saturday in Sauget, Ill., sparking the Trojans to a 6-2 win over the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers (Arkansas).
"This is the first team - in any sport - to bring home a national championship," to Mount Olive said Holton, who is from White Hill and played baseball for the NRHS Nighthawks.
"We were all pretty excited. When you first win, you're numb, but it's starting to sink in."
Holton played two years of baseball at junior college in Lethbridge, Alta., before he was recruited to play for the Trojans, who for most of the season were the #1-ranked baseball team in Division II.
The season started in early February and the team dedicated itself to winning a U.S. collegiate title.
"We worked hard, every single day, probably more than any other team did," said Holton, who expects to play second base next season as 12 Trojans graduate from the championship squad.
Holton is studying business management at Mount Olive, a small school in a small town (pop. 4,500) located about 45 minutes from Raleigh, N.C.
"It's a great opportunity: the weather's unreal, the baseball's unreal and the coaches really know what they're talking about,"?Holton said.
The town of Mount Olive is famous for its pickles; the Mount Olive Pickle Company, established in 1926, is located on the corner of Cucumber and Vine streets, according to Wikipedia.
"They've got a pickle factory here, they're pretty proud of it," said Holton.
Holton plans to play at least one more year of semi-pro baseball in Lethbridge this summer as a member of the Lethbridge Bulls, who play to about 1,000 fans each game at the 1,600-seat Henderson?Stadium.
The Bulls play a 42-game schedule in the 12-team Western Major Baseball?League, a league that showcases college players and prospects.
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By Kevin Adshade