Where Are They Now: Blake Clanton

Blake Clanton is a 6’1 205 lbs outfielder for the Washington State Cougars. This season Clanton has put together a .337 batting average, with 8 doubles, and has connected for 3 home runs for the Cougars. Clanton just recently went 4-5 with 4 RBI’s, 3 runs scored and finished with a Washington State record 4 doubles and also tied the Pac 12 record for doubles in one game. Last season Clanton also played with Washington State, as he would hit .248, tally 9 doubles, with 3 hrs.

Before coming to play at Washington State, Clanton started his college career at Western which is a Junior college in Altus, Oklahoma. Clanton played at Western during the 2015 and 2016 season. In the 2015 season Clanton would hit .344 with 13 home runs and finish with 52 RBI’s. In 2016 Clanton hitting was exceptional, finishing with a .373 batting average, with 19 long balls, and would finish with 19 doubles to lead his team.

Clanton grew up and attend high school in Clinton, Oklahoma. During his senior year, he would hit .496 with 17 doubles and 9 homeruns. Clanton was also named to the Allstate team that season. Clanton play summer baseball for the SW Shockers during the 2014 and 2015 season. He played on the same team with Minor League pitcher, Holden Capps, who is currently in the Kansas City Royals organization. In 2014 and 2015 Clanton was apart of the SW Shockers back to back State Champion American Legion teams. In 2015 the Shockers were also the runner up in the super regionals.

Baseball wasn’t the only sport Clanton was sucessful in. During his Sophomore year he was the 4A runner-up in the state golf tournament. As a Junior Clanton also was able to capture a high school football state title.

Interview:

Q: Explain the transformation from high school to college baseball

A: “The transformation from high school to college was a huge jump. It goes from seeing like low 80’s rarely in high school to seeing guys who throw from different angles in the 90’s. I think just the mind set in college is different too. You have to out work and believe in yourself to be successful. Because everyone is talented at this level.”

Q: Explain your journey to Washington State

A: “My journey to Washington state was pretty interesting. In high school I tore my acl, mcl, and meniscus my junior year. Which knocked me out of baseball all the way up to regionals. As I went into my senior year, I committed to a junior college called western Oklahoma state college coming out of high school. There is where my body really developed with that awesome program and the coaches there. They pushed me to be great and got me this opportunity to play at a high level.”

Q: What was your favorite moment, while being apart of the Shockers

A: “My favorite part about being a shocker was in 2015 when we had an awesome team that everyone was gelled perfectly. We won the American state championship and runner up in the super regional. I’ll also always remember the awesome times we had going to Omaha to watch the college World Series.”

Q: What would you say to other kids wanting to play college baseball

A: “To the kids wanting to play college baseball, I would say don’t ever give up on that dream. Even if it isn’t the biggest greatest program out there, give yourself that opportunity and don’t settle for less. Hard times are just part of sports but those who want to be great push themselves to the limits!”

Q: Explain what’s it’s like playing at Washington State

A: “As for playing at Washington state, it’s been an absolute dream come true! I would’ve never guessed I would be playing here but I have been blessed beyond imagine by God. I get to play big time programs all throughout the pac 12 and get to travel to so many awesome places playing the game I love. Its been a dream come true! But I also know that you reap what you sow as Perry says and the hard work has paid off. I’ve made some of my best friends here while competing at a high level.”

Where Are They Now: Taylor Varnell

Taylor Varnell is currently a Senior at the University Of Oral Roberts. He is sitting at 6-1 and 190 pounds. Varnell grew up Elk City, Oklahoma, but went to high school in Sayre, Oklahoma. Before Varnell came to Oral Roberts, he went to Western Oklahoma State College in Altus Oklahoma. Varnell play with Perry Warren and the SW Shockers during the 2013 and 2014 season, as he led them to a 2014 state runner up in American Legion. Varnell is currently majoring in business administration at ORU, and his Father Roy Varnell Jr. owns a power line company and his Mother Hope Rupp is a assistant to a financial advisor.

Varnell is a very experienced left-handed pitcher, who dominates hitters with his ability to throw his curveball. Varnell has a fastball with a lot of life, topping out at 93 mph. His change-up has proved it is set apart from others, as it tops out at 79. Varnell has been known for his capability to strikeout batters, on the season he has 40 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched. Varnell is 2-3 on the season, with a 6.30 ERA, and has only allowed 16 walks on the season. Varnell’s best outing was against #22 Wichita State, when he would throw 5 innings, allow 2 hits, and give up 1 run. He would finish with just 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Varnell over his carrer have learned to keep the ball in play and limit the home runs, as he has only allowed 4 over his 4 years in college baseball.

Interview:

Q: Explain the process of your recovery from Labrum surgery.

A: “Recovery from labrum surgery is really tough. I remember right after surgery I was doing research and found that the rate of recovery is only 6% so I was worried at first thinking this could be it for me in baseball. So I made the decision that I was going to go all out with my rehab. I told myself I was either going to come back 100% or blow it out again trying but I didn’t want to be a shell of myself like you see happen a lot with guys after shoulder surgery. So I went after my throwing program and rehab really aggressive and it was really bumpy, I had a lot of times when I thought that I wasn’t going to make it back or I couldn’t do it anymore. I made it through with the support of my teammates, coaches, athletic trainers, and my fiancée. Whenever I doubted myself they were all they’re to give me encouragement. I initially tore it in the beginning of my sophomore year and I my first game back was halfway through my junior year but I didn’t have my velocity or break that I had before. All the hard work finally paid off this fall when I got Back on campus and my shoulder was as good as new. My velocity was where it was before I got hurt and even the spring it’s been climbing to above where it was before the surgery.”

Q: Tell me how you feel to know you have a chance to play at the next level.

A: “Having an opportunity to play at the next level means the world to me. I mean it’s something I have literally wanted since I picked up a baseball. I used to idolize guys that got drafted like Dillon Overton from Weatherford and Gabe Winn, and now that I’m here it’s all kind of surreal. But I’m definitely honored to have the chance, especially after my injury when I thought my chances might be shot.”

Q: During your time with the Shockers what was your favorite moment.

A: My favorite part of playing with the shockers was definitely all the friendships I’ve made. Nothing specific stands out to me, but those nights on the road with all my buddies were special to me. I am also very grateful to have met Perry. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and really push me to be my best. The love and support he gives to all members of the shocker family is just amazing and I know that everyone that’s been apart of the organization is very thankful for him.”

Q: Explain your biggest role model, during your journey to the Major Leagues?

A: “Growing up I had many role models. For sports, I looked up to a lot of the older guys from my hometown, Sayre. I used to be the bat boy for the high school baseball team. I would try to be just like those guys. To me they might as well have been big leaguers. In my personal life my father was a big inspiration to me. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He would be gone for a long time working long hours as a powerline constructor but he always made time for me to give me a call or go do something with me when he was home. He showed me what hard work really means. Another one of my role models, was my High School coach, Colt Allison. He was one of my biggest role models and helped shape who I am today not only as a player but as a man.”

Q: In your opinion what is your most dominant pitch? And why?

A: “My dominant pitch is my curveball. I modeled it after my favorite pitcher, Barry Zito. It has a lot of 12-6 movement which throws batters off.”

Q: What would you say to other kids wanting to play in college baseball

A: “I would say that the mental side of the game is just as, if not more important than the physical. You have to develop your mind and your confidence in order to reach your potential.”