Clayton takes the mound

Drew McDonald, Sports Editor

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Before every game he pitches, Logan Clayton takes a breath and reads a message on the brim of his hat: be the best. 

“That’s something that just kind of stuck with me,” Clayton said. “After last year, I was kind of thinking that I was very mediocre. Before every time I pitch, I look at my hat and I tell myself to be the best pitcher that you can be today.”

Clayton’s cap for the UNF Ospreys. Photo courtesy of Logan Clayton

Clayton will be the starting pitcher for the Ospreys to begin their 2020 season against the VMI Keydets this Friday. The sophomore from Edgewater, Florida hasn’t felt the pre-game jitters until the day before the game.  

“It hasn’t really hit me until today. There were some messages in the team group chat about what time the team stretches tomorrow and that really hit me,” Clayton said. “Sophomores aren’t really supposed to be in this position and being able to have that experience and try and get my team the win is just a great feeling.”

After leading the freshmen in strikeouts (24), appearances (17) and innings pitched (32.2), Clayton also posted a 6.06 ERA which motivated him to train harder in the off-season. 

“I did a ton of weight training in the off-season. I got almost 200 pounds up on my deadlift but other than that, it was just getting a feel back from all my pitches,” Clayton said. 

Clayton has been developing an arsenal of pitches that should elevate his game.

“Last year, my slider was my go-to pitch,” Clayton said. “I couldn’t really throw my fastball for a strike last year which was weird because that was also my go-to pitch. This fall, I developed a really good change-up that’s a dangerous pitch to lefties.”

Those pitches have paid off for Clayton in his intersquad games earlier this spring. 

“In my past four intersquads, I’ve gotten 30 swing and misses on my change-up in only 20 innings total and I’m pretty happy with that,” Clayton said.

The season opener will be Clayton’s third career start at UNF. Being used primarily as a reliever last season, the sophomore is confident this year in taking on the role of a starter.  

“I know with the type of pitcher that I am that I can do either or. I’ve been starting more frequently this year and I’d rather start than relieve,” Clayton said. 

When Clayton jogs to the mound in the season opener, the sophomore will be nothing short of confident. 

“My mindset going into tomorrow is going to be to dominate every hitter, attack them from the first pitch and keep my pitch count down,” Clayton said. “I don’t think that my stuff will be hit, that’s how confident I am in my training.”

Before that first pitch is hurled, he’ll take one final look at his hat as a reminder of where he’s been and where he’s going. 

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