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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Freedom's Shults Breaks Through With All-Star Campaign

Freedom Report: A profile of Stephen Shults

Nick Dobreff / Florence FreedomSteven Shults

FLORENCE, KY - When the season comes to a close for the Florence Freedom, they may look back to June 8th as the day their season turned around.

That's the day the Freedom traded shortstop Gabe Suarez to the Newark Bears for another shortstop, Stephen Shults.

Shults, who struggled to find consistency during 3 injury-plagued seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization, is finally healthy and enjoying the kind of season the Freedom hoped for when they acquired him.

Coming into tonight's game, Shults leads the Frontier League in batting average (.377), home runs (13), and slugging percentage (.754), while also ranking in the top 10 in runs, on-base percentage, and RBI's.

But what's most amazing is that he's produced these stats despite having missed the Freedom's first 16 games of the season.

Shults' presence has injected new life into the Freedom batting order and his stellar defense at shortstop has shored up the team defense. He credits his strong first half to his health, but knows the Freedom's players and coaches have made a huge impact as well.

"This is the first team I've been on that hasn't tried to change my swing", says Shults. "Every team I've been with, even when I've been doing well, has tried to tweak my swing. The coaches here have let me find my own comfort zone and I'm sticking with it. And I've been able to relax knowing that I'm going to be in the lineup every day."

He was rewarded for his accomplishments earlier this week when he was named to the 2010 Frontier League All-Star Game.

"It's a tremendous honor to be named to the All Star Team. It's very special and humbling when you're recognized by your peers for having a good season."

He will also participate in the Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star week festivities.

"I'm really looking forward to the whole experience. It's great exposure for the players as well as the individual teams. I just want to represent the Florence Freedom in the best way possible and give the fans something to cheer about."

And while he's pleased with his first half performance, he knows it will take a team effort for the Freedom to make the playoffs.

"We have so much talent on this team, but we've lost some really tough games, a lot of one run games. During the second half we need to start winning those close games. I just want to win, and I think this team has the ability to go on a good run and finish the season on a positive note. A playoff spot is still our goal and that's what we're fighting for every day."

This article originally appeared on the official website of the florence freedom, Check it out today!

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