Clever catcher Trevor Deulen and his Jays teammates are savoring their 17-1 start, after enduring losing seasons in football and basketball and being overshadowed by the success of Clever’s girls in volleyball, basketball and softball..
The Jays entered this week with an 11-game winning streak.
“We're here to play and show everybody who Clever is,” Deulen said. “You don't get to hear about us a lot. The girls are always doing really good. It's good to see the baseball team do well. We haven't played like this in years.”
“The girls have always been good,” outfielder Hayden Camp said. "We work just as hard as everyone else. So, it's great to finally see us come around and get a lot of wins.”
It’s been quite a contrast in roles for the Jays. On the gridiron, they’re only in their fourth year as a varsity program and have been 1-19 the past two seasons. On the hardwood, they’ve been 7-44 the past two winters.
For those baseball players who also play football and/or basketball, the wins this spring have been especially rewarding.
"When someone beats you in football and basketball, they are definitely on the list for baseball season,” Camp said. “It’s been fulfilling to beat them in baseball.”
“Teams really lay it on us during football season because we're a new program,” utility man Landon Flood said. “With both of the sports earlier in the year struggling, it means a lot to come out here and beat some of those schools who put it to us. We make our list and try to get them in the spring.”
No school has beaten Clever more in practically every sport, both on the boys and girls sides, than Mid-Lakes Conference rival Strafford. The Jays’ 12-2 whipping of the Indians earlier this month was the first victory against Strafford for any of the Jays.
“They've had our number forever,” Camp said. “They've been beating us since middle school. That was one of the games I really wanted this year. To finally beat them my senior year was great.”
The Jays made sure to celebrate.
“I saw some of these older guys act like I've never seen them act before because they beat Strafford,” shortstop Own Hall said. “We had never beat Strafford in anything before.”
Clever has certainly responded well to first-year coach Brandon Cobb.
“I'm happy for the kids. Our seniors are getting rewarded,” Cobb said. “They've bought in and are playing hard. It's good to start out this way. But what really matters is the end of the year. We've got to continue to play well and finish out the season good.”
The Jays’ pitching has been stellar, despite an early-season injury to Brennan West. He had won his first two starts and was carrying an ERA below 1.00 when he went down with an arm injury.
Clever is giving up an average of only 2.6 runs a game.
“Our hitting has been hit or miss. But we have thrown it really well,” Cobb said. “We don't really know who our ace is right now. Losing Brennan put a dent in our pitching staff. But everyone has been throwing well. Our depth on the mound has been really good.”
Clever’s pitching staff is made up of Lane Mendenhall, Braden Verch, Deulen, Flood, Hall and Carter Wenger.
The Jays are putting up 8.3 runs a game.
They are also delivering in the clutch, having picked up three one-run wins last week alone. Clever edged Mt Vernon 4-3, blanked Monett 1-0 and downed Lighthouse 7-6 in eight innings.
“I knew we were going to be good,” Hall said. “But I didn't expect to get off to a start this hot.”
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