By Robert Wilson

       Taylor Caton will proudly have a gold medal when she goes back to school to Jackson Prep next week.

       The junior shortstop/pitcher represented Canada on its 18-and-under team in the Triple Crown International Challenge softball event at Westminster, Colo., and helped the country win the gold medal. Caton hit a two out, three run home run in the fifth inning to help Canada defeat Italy 7-6 in the championship game.

       Caton can play for Team Canada because her parents, mother and Prep softball coach Cory and father Matt Caton, have dual citizenship in the Canada and the United States. Both of Caton’s parents were born in Canada. Cory played softball at Troy (Ala.) University and Matt threw the discus for Mississippi State. They are both from London Ontario in Canada.

       “I was absolutely honored and so excited to not only be chosen to play for Team Canada, but then to win the gold was an incredible experience that I will never forget,” Taylor said. “It was such a dream come true for me to win the gold medal with the amazing group of girls I was selected to play with.”

       Caton has plenty of family support at the event. Her parents, younger brother Boyd and Cory’s parents from Canada, David and Gail Bowen, were in Colorado cheering on Taylor.

       “Team Canada was an amazing experience,” said Cory, who has won six state championships and two Overall titles as she starts her 20th season coaching at Prep. “She’s a first-year 16 player and played on the 18u team, which was a huge honor. They won gold and she hit a home run in the semis against South Korea and again in the championship against Italy. She was selected to play in the all-star game as well. The environment playing for Team Canada with a group of girls you have never met and coming together to play for their country was amazing.”

       The 5-foot-10 Caton hit .475 with 12 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 45 runs batted in and had a 1.00 earned run average and helped Prep to a 21-13 record and a MAIS Class 6A runner-up finish last year as a sophomore. She has named first team all-conference.

       Caton is one of the top juniors in the state and was named to the All-MAIS preseason team. She has been to camps at Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Memphis, and Troy. Caton has played in Houston, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Chino Hills, Calif., this summer. She plays for the Louisiana Bombers travel team.

Prep opens its season Thursday at Central Hinds Academy and Caton is expected to start at shortstop.

       Caton is one of the most versatile athletes at Prep. She also plays basketball and runs track. Caton was the second leading scorer (8.2 points per game), leading rebounder (3.6 per game) and leader in steals (1.8 per game). She has won the MAIS Class 6A state title in the long jump twice and does the triple jump, runs the relays and throws the discus.