When Roberts found out Penton had a desire to play college baseball, he began his pursuit of making Penton a Golden Bear. That pursuit ended with a college scholarship.
Penton inked with Miles on Monday. He becomes the fourth Spring Garden athlete in the past month to sign an athletic scholarship.
"I'm very excited," said Penton, whose primary position is shortstop. "I've been dreaming about this since I was young. There have been times where I thought I was going to get to go and times where I thought I wasn't. It's great to finally realize I have the chance to play college baseball. I just continued to work and was just hoping the day would come, and it did. I'm glad to be able to go to a four-year school, and I hope I'll be successful there."
There's no doubting Penton's success as a Panther.
As a freshman, Penton batted .423 with 41 hits, two of which were home runs. He also scored 30 runs and had 29 RBIs. Penton batted .397 as a sophomore with 46 hits, including a home run, 33 runs scored and 25 RBIs. Last year as a junior, Penton tallied a .327 average with 37 hits, including two homers, 30 runs scored and 28 RBIs.
Spring Garden coach Tony Benefield said Penton has developed into a leader on and off the field.
"He's grown up and matured so much over the years," Benefield said. "He's right up there in batting average, defense, the whole nine yards. It's great to see him turn into a young man. I know he's going to go there and do well academically as well as athletically. I know he's going to be a successful young man in whatever he chooses to do."
Benefield said he realized he had something special in Penton during his freshman year. That year, Penton helped guide Spring Garden to second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
"We were down against Ragland (in the first round), and he ended up hitting a 3-run home run. He ended up having six RBIs in one game," Benefield recalls. "It was a team effort, but he was a big part of it. He's just kind of progressed as he's gone on up. He wasn't a one-hit wonder. He's kept getting better and better."
In addition to the pop in his bat, Penton is also versatile in the field. He's played almost every position on the diamond except first base.
"He's been the guy I can go to and play him wherever I need to play him, including pitcher and catcher," Benefield said. "He's done it all."
Penton said being versatile has been a big help to him in signing a college scholarship.
"My coaches have always told me if you're able to play a lot of positions, that helps you get recruited because they can put you at a lot of different places," Penton said. "That's what I've tried to do. I've just tried to develop and work hard no matter where I'm at. That way you're not just limited with what you can do."
Roberts said the Golden Bears plan on playing Penton as a college freshman next season.
"He'll play a little shortstop coming in as a freshman, which I think he can handle the task of playing sporadically and competing for the No. 1 spot," Roberts said. "We look for him to do a lot of relief pitching and working his way into the starting rotation. He's going to be asked to do a lot as a freshman, but I think he's up for the task."
Penton said playing with a new team next year "is going to be a huge adjustment."
"I love these guys (at Spring Garden). I've played with them since kindergarten all the way up to now. I play travel ball with five of them every summer, so I've really grown accustomed to them. It's hard knowing it's coming to an end, but it's also an exciting time. It's going to be fun making an adjustment at Miles, but I've really enjoyed playing for Spring Garden and Coach Benefield. It's been a great four years here."