Coaches and Staff
Head Baseball Coach
Todd Shelton begins his ninth season as the Head Coach of the Panola Ponies. Coach Shelton has a 300-238 record in his eight seasons at Panola, and career head coaching record of 524-379. The Ponies have reached the playoffs in six of his eight seasons along with a CO- Conference Championship in 2009 while being ranked as high as 7th in the NJCAA top 25 National Polls.
Shelton is a 1986 graduate of Conroe High School. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Oklahoma State and later went on to earn a Master's Degree from Cumberland University.
Shelton attended and played baseball at McLennan Community College before going on to play for the legendary Coach Gary Ward at Oklahoma State University. As a catcher for the Cowboys, Shelton had the opportunity to play in two NCAA Regional Championships and the 1990 NCAA College World Series National Championship game. Following the 1990 College World Series, Shelton signed and played one season with the Cleveland Indians.
Shelton began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University as an assistant to Coach Ward. He then moved to be the first assistant at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) powerhouse, Cumberland University. In 1993 Cumberland advanced to the NAIA College World Series.
In August of 1994 Shelton returned to Oklahoma State University as an assistant, and once again the Cowboys returned to the NCAA College World Series in 1996. The next season Shelton was an assistant coach on the National Championship Team at Northeast Texas Community College.
In 1997 Shelton became the head baseball coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College where he led the team to its first NJCAA College World Series in 2001. Shelton stayed at Eastern Oklahoma until 2004.
In 2005-2007, Shelton was on the staff of Oral Roberts University. During that time his teams have participated in two NCAA Regionals and the 2006 NCAA Super Regional.
Assistant Baseball Coach
Brandon Benton is entering his third season as an Assistant Coach for the Panola Ponies. Coach Benton serves as the team's Strength Coach, Recruiting Coordinator and works with hitters and infielders. Prior to joining the Ponies staff in 2014, Benton served as the Head Coach at Central Hinds Academy in 2013. In 2012, Benton was on staff at Greenville College as a Graduate Assistant where he led the Strength program as well as the Recruiting. In 2011, Benton served as an Assistant Coach at St Aloysius High School where he worked primarily with hitters and outfielders. From 2010-2008, Benton served as an assistant for Mississippi's Reviving Baseball in Inner-cities (RBI).
As a player, he was honored twice as an All-Conference athlete. As a senior at Mississippi College he was awarded with All-Atlantic-Southwest-Conference honors as an outfielder where he led the team in home-runs. Before transferring to Mississippi College, Benton played at Belhaven University where he helped lead the Blazers to the school's first ever NAIA College World Series appearance. Also at Belhaven he was awarded with All-Gulf-Coast-Atlantic-Conference honors as a designated hitter. Before Belhaven, Benton played for Hinds Community College.
Before entering college Benton served on active duty in the United States Air Force for 4 years as a Security Forces Airman.
Benton completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology (Sports Management) from Mississippi College and his Master of Arts in Education (Coaching) from Greenville College.
Assistant Baseball Coach
Trevor Rainey is entering his first season as an assistant coach for the Panola Ponies. Coach Rainey will serve as the team's outfield coach, as well as assist in recruiting, and strength and conditioning. Prior to joining the Ponies staff, Rainey spent the 2016 season at Southern Arkansas University as a graduate assistant where he assisted with outfield and hitting. Before Southern Arkansas, Rainey spent 2 years serving as an assistant coach at Woodville High School in Woodville, Texas. In 2011 he was on staff at Houston Baptist University as a student assistant.
As a player Rainey spent 2006-2008 at Texarkana College before transferring to Houston Baptist University where he would finish his career in 2010.
Rainey completed his Bachelor of Arts in History from Houston Baptist University in 2010. He is currently enrolled and finishing his Masters in Kinesiology from Southern Arkansas University.
Coach Robert Ellis is no stranger to pitching, bringing 26 years of baseball experience, with 19 of those years in MLB organizations as a pitcher and/or pitching coach. He also brings 7 years of experience serving as an assistant or head coach at the amateur levels. In his 26 years of service in the game, Ellis has been recognized with numerous individual and team honors. As a pitcher, pitching coach, assistant coach and head coach in the areas of performance, commitment, service, and development and evaluations. He has been a part of 14 championship teams on both the professional and amateur levels, most notably being a member of the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ellis's playing and coaching career have led him to many different parts of the United States, as well as abroad, including; Mexico, The Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Canada, and Puerto Rico. His travels have allowed him to experience and learn many different cultures and training techniques. In his 16 year playing career Ellis learned the game from some of the best minds in the game with the likes of Buddy Bell, Terry Francona, Buck Showalter, and Oral Hershiser. He was teammates with, and competed against, some of the greats like Randy Johnson, Greg Maddox, Ichiro Suzuki, and Frank Thomas. As a coach at both professional and amateur ranks, Ellis has worked closely with many current and former MLB pitchers like Philip Humber, Josh Tomlin, and Jeurys Familia.
In 1988-1989, prior to his professional playing career, Ellis attended Northwestern State University where he played both football and baseball. He transferred to Panola College in 1990. After one year at Panola he was drafted in the 3rd round by the Chicago White Sox in the 1990 MLB Draft. Following his playing career Ellis graduated from Northwestern State University.
Ellis has been married for 26 years to his wife, Jodi, and they have three children, Aubrie, Morgan, and Duke, and one grandson named Jax.