All American Game | Story | 8/10/2019

Play together, stay together

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Cade Horton, Jax Fulton, Jace Bohrofen (Perfect Game)

SAN DIEGO – The text messages were flying across the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area in mid-July, arriving in seconds as they made their way from Oklahoma County, over into Canadian County and finally down into Cleveland County.

There was big news to be shared and one big question to be asked, and life-long friends Jace Bohrofen, Daxton Fulton and Cade Horton were working their phones. Inquiring minds needed to know and they needed to know right now.

“I don’t know who got the call first but I was texting Cade and I was like, hey, did you get the call?, and he was like, yeah, man, I got it, and I was like, ‘Sweet!’ ” Bohrofen told Perfect Game on Friday. “Then we texted Dax and he had gotten the call and we just started texting each other and congratulating each other. It was just a really neat experience.”

Bohrofen was speaking to PG while standing on the playing field at Petco Park, the home of the NL’s San Diego Padres. He is here this weekend because he is a member of the West Team for Sunday’s nationally televised PG All-American Classic, as are Fulton and Horton.

And that was the reason for all those Mid-July text messages. PG officials had started contacting the 55 players from across the country who and been selected to be a part of the 17th annual AA Classic.

With the all-for-one, one-for-all mentality that the three top class of 2020 national prospects from the state of Oklahoma had developed as a result of being teammates for the past 12-plus years, they had to know who was in and who was out; they were all in.

“We always used to watch it together and it was going to be our dream to all be there someday,” Fulton said. “We didn’t want just one or two of us to be there, we wanted the whole group to make it because we thought that would be really, really cool. And, sure enough, we ended up making it, which is just very, very cool.”

So what is it about these guys that makes them care so much about the successes of the other two? Simply put, it’s a tale of three very talented PG All-Americans who grew up in and around Oklahoma City and who, quite remarkably really, have been playing on the same team since they were 5 years old; each is now less than three months away from his 18th birthday.

Fulton is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound left-hander from Mustang, Okla., just west of Oklahoma City who is the No. 18-ranked national prospect in the 2020 class and No. 1 in Oklahoma; he has committed to national champion Vanderbilt.

Horton, an Oklahoma commit, is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound shortstop from Norman just south of OKC in Cleveland County ranked Nos. 22/2; the uncommitted Bohrofen is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound outfielder ranked Nos. 23/3 from Oklahoma City in Oklahoma County.

Bohrofen explained to PG that Horton’s dad, Mike, started a T-ball team all those many years ago that he soon joined, and it wasn’t long after that Fulton came on board, as well. The trio then stayed together as they progressed through machine-pitch, coach-pitch, kid-pitch and finally into the big-boy world of travel ball.

Fulton recalled that in the very early years they would travel to a small town just outside of OKC called Del City for weekend tournaments during the summer. There were times when bigger tournaments would come calling and they’d go compete in those and before long they were introduced to travel ball.

The three of them played almost exclusively for the Midwest Elite organization the last three years but when coach Tyler Seng moved away from the  organization and created MVP Baseball in 2018, they went with him. They played mostly local events and not in PG regional or national settings.

“It’s been an awesome experience playing with (Seng) and playing local tournaments (back home) and it was great,” Bohrofen said.

Having such good friends by their side through the thick and the thin has made the whole PG tournament experience with the amount of travel involved that much more enjoyable. They were away from their families a lot during the summer and seeing such familiar faces on a daily basis made all three feel like they were back home.

“They were like my brothers and I’d played with them forever so I really didn’t miss home that much; I was used to playing with them,” Fulton said. “They really helped me stay focused and stay true to what I’m here for.”

Living in different cities obviously means this terrific trio attend different high schools. Bohrofen is at Westmoore HS in OKC while Horton is at Norman HS and Fulton at Mustang HS.

They all compete in Oklahoma’s Class 6A (big-school) division so it is not uncommon for the three to face off against each other, mostly in the playoffs but often during the regular-season as well. They stay in touch, even during the school year.

“We all (live) kind of close to each other so we can go hang out for a little bit, go hit in the cages, or just hang around and watch some movies or something,” Bohrofen said. “It’s just kind of neat how we can go hang out with each other, whether it’s in the cages  or in the weight room.”

It wasn’t always a bed of roses. Fulton told PG that when they were kids he and Horton didn’t always get along because they both looked at themselves as team leaders and their respective competitive natures caused them to butt heads from time to time.

That changed as the two grew older and earned each other’s respect and now the chemistry shared between all three is second to none, and largely responsible for the team and individual successes they’ve enjoyed. Their talent was evident from the get-go.

“We started turning double-plays when we were 5 or 6 years old so we kind of knew we were somewhat good, and we always just kept playing together,” Fulton said. “Our families were very into baseball so (the teams) were built around us and then other players came and played with us.”

All three describe a very vibrant high school baseball scene in the OKC area, with top prospects at every turn. Horton said he would put Oklahoma’s 2020 class up against any state in the country, noting that every player – not just he, Bohrofen and Fulton – is very competitive and they all work hard to make each other better.

“It’s a fun culture to be around; playing in Oklahoma City is awesome,” Bohrofen said. “We’ve had some players who have been drafted in (highly) and we’ve had some really good college players, as well. So growing up in Oklahoma City, I think, is really cool.”

Bohrofen said being selected to play in the PGAAC is a dream come true. He’s had the event on his radar – heck, maybe even his bucket list – ever since at least 2016 when a good friend of his at Westmore, Cameron Uselton, had an older brother, Conner Uselton, play in the game. The Pirates drafted Conner in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft and he continues to work his tail off in the Buc’s farm system.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I’ve been in high school to just go out to the National (Showcase) and show what I could I do and then make this game,” he said. “Now I’m here with Cade and Dax, and it’s just really cool to be here; it’s an awesome experience so far.”

Horton called it “really crazy” that these three highly regarded and highly ranked Oklahoma boys have managed to play together and stay together for the last dozen years. It’s just something that’s been equal parts awesome and fun. “We talk a lot,” he said. “I don’t know, it’s just a great group of friends.”

That’s a sentiment Fulton shares: “We always played well together so it was always fun to play with them, and our families are really good friends,” he said. “We never really thought about playing together for that long, it just kind of happened because we’re really good friends, too.”

On Sunday night, with thousands of fans looking on from their seats at Petco Park and thousands more watching live on MLB Network or listening on  MLB Network Radio, these three young top prospects from Oklahoma will be on the same field and in the same dugout once again.

The excitement they share about being a part of the PGAAC is palpable and their enthusiasm matches their excitement. As Horton put it, it’s something they’ve dreamed about individually and now to be able to experience it collectively is not only incredible but indescribable.

“It’s been crazy and playing with them has been a lot of fun,” he concluded. “We’ve grown up together and we’re like brothers, basically; we’ve spent every summer together traveling the United States. We started at the Del City ballpark and now we’re here on the big stage. It’s just been truly amazing to stick with those guys and to be able to play alongside of them.”

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