Throughout the state baseball playoffs, the members of the Effingham County High School baseball team carried the thoughts of a teammate who couldn’t be with them.
Now, those players, the rest of ECHS and the friends and family of Logan Shelton prepare to say their final goodbyes.
Shelton, 17 years old, died Tuesday afternoon, more than three months after an accident left him hospitalized. He was seriously injured in an auto accident May 13 on Pooler Parkway that also injured two other ECHS students. Shelton was airlifted to Memorial University Medical Center’s trauma center, where he stayed for a month and a half before being transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta-Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta.
“He battled for so long,” said Effingham County High School baseball coach Brett Griffin. “It’s been very tough, watching our teammate, friend and family member battle for his life. It’s tough to look over at his locker and have him not be there with us. We worked so hard to be where we were, and he was a part of that.”
Shelton’s accident came two days after Effingham swept Northside-Warner Robins in the second round of the Class AAAA state baseball playoffs. His teammates took his jersey with them on their road trip to Dunwoody for the quarterfinals matchup against Dunwoody High. Many of the Rebels had either his number or his initials applied in eye black to their faces.
Griffin called that team the closest he’s ever coached. How they rallied around each other and the Shelton family, and how others rallied around them, drew them tighter still.
“This brought them even closer together,” he said. “They were there from the night of the accident until they had to go back to school and some of them still went up to Atlanta to go see him. That’s something to be said for those kids.”
They even went so far as to form into a number 6 on the field after their sweep of the Wildcats. Whitewater High School painted a “6” on the field in front of the Rebels dugout prior to the Effingham-Whitewater state semifinals series.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Griffin said of the response throughout the prep baseball community, “from the time of the accident through when he was recovering through (Wednesday). I’ve received calls and emails from coaches all over the state. It’s been humbling, the number of people who have had Logan on their minds.”
Several fundraisers were held on Shelton’s behalf to help his family cope with the massive medical bills. Shelton’s father Mark came to the ECHS baseball fieldhouse Thursday to go through his son’s locker.
“This is a tough situation for Logan’s family,” Griffin said. “It’s a tough time for everybody. It’s tough just to watch it hurt and help them deal with the grief. Most of them understand Logan was fighting and struggling, and now he’s gone to a better place.”
Funeral services for Logan Andrew Shelton will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Springfield.
Remembrances can be directed to the Effingham County and South Effingham high school baseball teams, care of Coach Griffin, 1589 Highway 119 S., Springfield GA, 31329.