It is no exaggeration to say that senior shortstop JC Clayton is a phenomenal softball athlete.
She recently broke two school records for the most stolen bases in a game — four — and the most career hits with 269. She holds 11 individual career and season records for BYU, and is only halfway through her final season with the Cougars.
“I knew I was coming up on it, and every at bat I could probably tell you how many hits I needed,” Clayton said of her most-career-hits record. “My parents contributed to that. They paid attention to those stats because it makes them proud, and to me it’s an honor.”
In addition, Clayton has been nominated for the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season and is on the watch list for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
Coach Gordon Eakin said Clayton has been an instant success for the BYU softball team since she started as a freshman. He attributes this to her natural softball instincts and deep knowledge of the game. There is no question that Clayton is a talented athlete, but her intrinsic softball knowledge allows her to execute at a level others don’t usually reach.
“She is my kind of player,” Eakin said. “I love to coach a player that understands the game and that I can relate to on a whole different level. We speak softball talk to each other and she understands, so it makes coaching more fun, much easier and takes our game to a different level.”
With half of the season still ahead of her, Clayton is close to breaking more BYU records, including highest career and season batting average, most career triples and most career runs.
“Now it’s a matter of making it as hard as I can for someone else to pass me, and that’s what I’m going for,” Clayton said.
This being the end of her softball career is a depressing and touchy subject. But for Clayton, college softball might not be the end. She has been listed as a possible draftee for the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft and said she would take the opportunity in a heartbeat if selected.
It is suiting that with a major in recreation management, Clayton’s ultimate goal is to become a college softball coach. Coach Eakin agrees that she would be great at it.
“To our program, she’s been like a coach on the field since day one and has just gotten stronger in that role throughout her career,” Eakin said. “She takes the burden off of me because I don’t have to worry about moving defenses that she’s already done and about forward thinking that she’s already doing.”
Clayton believes that her role on the team is to help prepare the younger players to advance their careers and increase their knowledge.
“Next year I’m going to be gone,” Clayton said. “I’m not going to be on the field helping with every pitch, every play, every plan. I’m constantly trying to have those talks with Coco, Ashlee or Katie and trying to help them learn the game a little more.”