Pitching is still something fairly new to Merced College freshman Clayton Hall.
He wasn’t used as a pitcher at Merced High until his senior year. He spent his first season with the Blue Devils this spring as a two-way player, splitting his time in the infield and on the mound.
His pitching stats were something you might see in a video game.
Hall gave up just one earned run and two runs total in 42 and 2/3 innings, which not surprisingly led the state with a 0.21 ERA. The right-hander closed the season with a 37 1/3 scoreless inning streak.
Hall was named the Central Valley Conference Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches.
“It’s surprising for me,” Hall said. “It’s nice to hear. It’s an honor because there are a lot of good players and a lot of good freshman in the league. It means a lot.”
Fresno City’s Chet Allison was named the Most Valuable Player.
Merced College catcher Tyler Butterfield, infielder Sam Burns and Hall as a utility player were all named to the all-CVC first team. Pitcher Michael Juarez, first baseman Dylan Jackson and outfield Daiya Katsu earned second-team honors.
Hall is so new to pitching he doesn’t label himself as a pitcher. He prefers to call himself an infielder who pitches.
“I still enjoy hitting more,” Hall said. “It’s fun to pitch, but I still want to pursue hitting.”
Hall had one of the best seasons at the plate too for the Blue Devils, finishing with a .302 batting average to go along with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Hall scored 29 runs and racked up 31 RBIs.
“Being a two-way guy isn’t easy,” said Merced College coach Nate Devine. “His pitching work he’d get in before practice. He had some spare times in the morning. He’s still growing into his own so I think he can get better in both areas. His work ethic is really good and he’s an intelligent kid.”
Hall says he keeps his approach on the mound simple.
He walked just eight batters all season.
“My success really just comes from throwing strikes,” Hall said. “I try to throw the ball as hard as I can and keep it in the zone. I try to get to two strikes. I feel like if I can get to two strikes, I can make them chase.
“Coach Devine talks a lot about being aggressive and having that attitude on the mound. I try to be that bulldog on the mound and attack the hitters.”
Hall finished with a school record 11 saves.
“His numbers are a result of him consistently getting after it on the mound,” Devine said.
Hall is a bit surprised to see the stats he’s posted this season on the mound. He said he wasn’t aware of the scoreless innings streak until a teammate told him about it late in the season.
“Honestly, I’m pretty surprised,” Hall said. “I haven’t considered myself a pitcher. I do think I got lucky a little bit. I say that because it’s only been a little over a year since I started pitching. It’s new to me. I don’t know that much about mechanics. I’m just an infielder out there pitching.”
The Merced College softball team landed three players on the all-CVC first team in Mikayla Wong, Shiori Uchiyama and Julia Pinasco.
Uchiyama led the team with a .435 batting average and finished with seven doubles, 12 triples and one home run. Uchiyama scored 35 runs and drove in 25.
Wong hit. .409 this season and led MC with 39 runs and 33 RBIs. Pinasco hit. 365 with two home runs and 30 RBIs.