TULSA — Kolton Brown never felt out of place at Union City.
Brown attended Southwest Covenant for school, but played baseball at Union City the past four years as part of a unique co-op that benefitted both schools.
On Tuesday, he represented both schools in the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Game at J.L. Johnson Stadium on the campus of Oral Roberts University, going 1 for 4 with a single in the West's 9-5 loss.
“It was a lot of fun,” Brown said about playing for Union City. “The guys welcomed us as their own, called us their own and I would go to the basketball games and hang out with the guys and come over to their house and everything.”
Even with a 25-minute drive multiple times per week, the small country town felt like home.
And Union City didn't mind having Brown's bat in the middle of its lineup.
Brown hit below .500 just one season — last season. The switch-hitter also hit 43 total home runs, becoming a feared hitter across the area. He even hit two grand slams in one inning as a sophomore.
“I had some good offensive players to go with him through those years, but he's a rare type of player,” Union City coach Ludy Griggs said. “It'll be a long time before I get anybody like him again.”
For Griggs, the fun began four years ago when he agreed to let Southwest Covenant players try out for the team during their search for a school that would allow them to form a co-op.
Southwest Covenant had just joined the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, but did not have enough players to form a team.
Griggs said he was low on numbers and decided if he wasn't impressed he would just turn them away like other schools. Then the 6-foot-4 Brown got out of the car alongside pitcher Garrett Lessman.
“I just looked at the guy I took with me and it was a no-brainer,” Griggs said. “I said, ‘They're on the team.'”
But just like four years ago, Brown recently went searching for a college home.
His original plan was to play at Seminole State, but that fell through. Just last week he signed with Oklahoma Christian.
“I was talking to Oklahoma Christian for a while,” Brown said. “I wanted to go the juco route, but I told them if that fell through they're the one I want to come to. All the juco routes fell through.”
Brown, though, could have been destined for the Major League Baseball Draft if not for labrum surgery on his right shoulder. He also played through tendinitis this season, limiting him to first base and catcher.
“If he had been healthy his last year and a half, it would have been a whole different situation,” Griggs said.
But Brown looks at his situation from landing at Union City to landing at Oklahoma Christian instead of a junior college or the pros positively.
“Early on I was given a gift from God,” he said. “So I used that and I've hit pretty decently.
“It was all part of the plan.”