Parham underwent knee surgery in the offseason of his junior year and spent five months on crutches before he could start getting back into shape in time to play his senior season. He not only played but started every game for the Colonels and said he has since started approaching his old speed.
Parham said while on crutches he had time to reflect on life but never considered not returning to the diamond.
“There was no chance that was going to happen,” he said. “I love the game too much.”
The Colonel signed this week to play at Andrew College, a two-year college where he hopes to improve his skills enough to continue his baseball career at the collegiate level. Tyler Gates, a teammate, also signed to play with the Fighting Tigers.
The injury cooled Parham’s stats at Cass, but the youngster still played well enough to impress coaches at Andrew, who are interested in him as a third baseman. Parham’s best year statistically was as a sophomore, when he hit .381, 33 RBIs, 10 doubles and two home runs. He hit around .350 his other years.
Still, the statistics that most impress his high school coach was how often he penned Parham’s name on the starting lineup and his being named to all-region teams three consecutive years.
“Dalton started every game he’s played here for four years,” Todd Eubanks, Cass head baseball coach, said. “He’s always hit third or fourth in the lineup for us. He was put into the pressure early on and handled it well and had a very productive high school career.”
Parham, who also was a closer at Cass, said he is looking to play his best at Andrew and hopes to advance his career.
“Honestly, my options were pretty limited,” Parham said. “Since my knee surgery last year, I didn’t have the best season. It slowed me down. I guess it kind of shooed colleges off from watching me play.”
He said he likes the chance to play at Andrew College.
“I’m going to be with some friends, a lot of people I know. I know we’re going to have a good team. I’m going to play hard and I’m just going to work my tail off so I can go to a good school after this.
“I want to go to D1 but you can’t ever guarantee yourself something like that. That’s a big thing. But that’s what my goal is.”
The youngster has always approached his game seriously, but the surgery may have made him more focused.
“I had some type of bone disorder in my knee and it cracked and it was a little chip,” he said. “[We] had to go in and scope it out. It was a pretty big surgery. If I didn’t get that healed and it were to break again, it probably could have ended my career. I have to stay healthy.”
The third baseman said he had to work hard to overcome the challenge.
“I definitely got out of shape,” he said. “About five months on crutches isn’t the best, but I pushed myself harder last year and in this offseason to get where I needed to be. I might not be a full 100 percent but I’ve still got room to grow. I still push myself harder.
“I’m about where I was [speed-wise] but I still need to knock a few tenths of a second off my 60.”
Parham said he also is looking forward to seeing a couple of old friends at Andrew College.
“I will reunite with some friends at Andrew College, Dalton Weightman and Taylor Bentley,” he said. “I’m really good friends with them. We’ve played baseball together for a while. It’ll be fun.”
Coach Eubanks said Parham has always been a key player for Cass and not just because of his third-base play and hitting.
“The players also respect and admire him,” Eubanks said. “Our players select their captains at the end of the year and Dalton has been voted captain ever since his sophomore year.
“He’s a quality kid. He does well in the classroom. His parents, Williams and Michelle Parham, have done a great job raising him. He’s one the Cass community can be very proud to call a Colonel.”
The Colonel also has received the respect of other coaches in the region, being named by those same coaches to the all-region team for three of the four years he’s played. The all-region selections have not been named yet this season.
Parham was named to the preseason all-state and all-region teams.
Eubanks said while Parham has stood out because of his contributions to the team and program, that’s not the only reason he will remember his player.
“One reason I’ll always remember him, too, is because I’ve only been thrown out of one baseball game in 23 years. It was due to Dalton Parham missing home plate — well, the umpire said he missed the plate,” Eubanks said, gently laughing.
The Cass coach said Andrew College is familiar with Parham and also with the type of player he is, and he expects him to make a contribution there.
“The Andrew coach is very pleased with the product we put out at Cass,” Eubanks said. “Dalton and Tyler will be the fourth and fifth kids we’ve sent to Andrew in the past two years. They’ve become Cass South.”
Other Colonels sent during that time frame have been Landon Hightower, a sophomore who’ll be finishing up at the school this year, Weightman and Bentley, both freshmen.