FRANKLIN — Getting to play in eight of his team’s 55 games during the 2016 season provided Sam Claycamp a small sampling of college baseball.
It wasn’t, however, enough to make him stay.
In May, Claycamp decided one season at the University of Dayton was enough and began researching potential transfer options, including Baldwin-Wallace, Earlham, the University of Southern Indiana and St. Joseph’s.
The former Columbus East player chose Franklin College.
It’s been a mutually beneficial change of scenery.
Claycamp, who hits third in coach Lance Marshall’s lineup, leads the team in numerous offensive categories as the Grizzlies have raced out to a 16-9 start (including 8-4 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings).
“I didn’t see much action at Dayton. It was pretty frustrating,” said Claycamp, whose brief career as a Flyer included one hit in nine at-bats for a squad that finished with a 19-36 record. “I was going to stick it out, but mainly I wanted to play more.
“I grew up close to Franklin College and went to a lot of their baseball camps when I was younger. And we have a family friend who played there (2005 graduate Terry Kinnett), and he really enjoyed it.”
Blended into the flurry of statistical data produced so far by Claycamp are the eight games with three or more base hits. Against Defiance on April 8, the sophomore delivered four hits, four runs and four RBIs in a 12-4 Grizzlies triumph.
Marshall, who has coached three HCAC Most Valuable Player recipients since becoming coach in 1997, realizes it would be premature to put Claycamp in such select company at this juncture of the season.
Nonetheless, he can’t help but be impressed.
“I’ve known Sam for a long time, and he is just a terrific young man on and off the field,” Marshall said. “I knew he would have a strong impact here, and that’s a tribute to him. He’s a very cerebral baseball player who shows up to play every game.
“It’s not easy to find a shortstop who hits for as much power as Sam does.”
Franklin, which played at Mount St. Joseph on Friday and plays a doubleheader there today, returns home to play a crucial HCAC game on Tuesday afternoon against Rose-Hulman. The Engineers eked out a 7-6 victory in 10 innings on April 11 despite Claycamp’s best efforts — three hits, two runs and three driven in.
The Grizzlies then embark on a three-game road swing, with a game at Bluffton on Friday and a Saturday doubleheader against the Beavers.
More opportunities for Claycamp to build on what’s been a truly special first season of Division III baseball.
“I expected a high level out of myself. It’s more about taking every at-bat one pitch at a time,” he said. “Last year as a freshman it was a lot of looking toward an end result instead of going pitch by pitch.
“I’m more patient now, but I’m also more aggressive.”
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
Sam Claycamp’s statistics and where the sophomore shortstop ranks on his Franklin College team in each category:
Average: .429 (1st)
Hits: 42 (1st)
Doubles: 14 (1st)
Home runs: 7 (1st)
Runs: 35 (1st)
RBI: 30 (1st)
At-bats: 98 (2nd)