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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Frontier's Christian Deaton hustles to make the catch in the outfield against Liberty in this file photo.

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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Centennial's Richard Mitchell couldn't get Frontier's Christian Deaton out at 2nd but fires to 1st to get the runner out in their Thursday game.

Christian Deaton decided his emphasis would be on-base percentage this baseball season.

And it paid off.

Deaton, a recent Frontier graduate, was the offensive catalyst for the Titans, who went 25-7, including 13-2 in the Southwest Yosemite League.

"My most important goal was getting on base -- a hit, walk, hit by pitch. Get on base so the guys behind me can get me in," said Deaton, Frontier's leadoff batter and center fielder.

Deaton batted .444 and drew 32 walks, giving him a .589 on-base percentage, which ranked fourth in Kern County according to MaxPreps.

He added 33 runs scored to rank among the county leaders and was 14-of-17 on stolen base attempts.

Deaton was one of the leading vote-getters on the coaches' All-Southwest Yosemite League team and is the BVarsity Baseball Player of the Year.

"He bought into it this year, the importance of hitting the ball on the ground and letting his speed work for him," Frontier coach John Moncier said. "He was on base all of the time, and he was one of our top RBI guys."

Ron Valenti, an assistant coach who filled in as head coach when Moncier was suspended, said Deaton worked hard to become a good bunter, which helped his overall offense.

"He worked on bunting in his spare time and it made him a double threat," Valenti said. "With his speed, it really added to his game. ... Infielders will play him up because of his (bunting) threat, and it opens up holes in the infield."

Deaton said signing a letter-of-intent with Cal State Bakersfield during the early signing period last November contributed to his successful senior year.

"That was one of the most important things, getting all the recruiting out of the way so I could play how I was coached," Deaton said. "I wanted to prove I was D-1 caliber."

Deaton said he benefitted from the expertise of his coaches.

"From the first year they came over here, the main thing they helped me work on was being mentally tough to play this game," Deaton said. "I had the talent, but they wanted me to be tougher mentally as a player so I would be ready to play at the next level.

"I'm 100 percent confident they prepared me. I'm sure I wouldn't be at that level if they didn't help me."

Moncier said he first saw Deaton play at age 11.

"Even as an 11-year-old, he stood out to me," Moncier said. "He stood out to me then. He was advanced as a hitter, and he's succeeded at every level he's played at.

"I think once he adjusts to the upgraded in pitching, he'll hit his way into that (CSUB) lineup.

"He's a solid kid and hard worker. I expect to see him keep producing as he always has at the collegiate level."

Moncier described Deaton as an above-average high school defensive outfielder but added Deaton will need to improve as he begins his college career.

"He's got good range, but he can improve defensively," Moncier said. "He needs to strengthen his arm a little bit, playing a lot of long toss, and he needs to work on getting jumps on the ball defensively."