El Campo graduate enjoying college success
July 31, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.
EL CAMPO - Sam Houston State's run to the NCAA Super Regional made quite an impact in the college baseball world.
Clayton Harp got another reminder while playing for the Hays Larks in the Jayhawk League this summer.
"I met a lot of guys up in Kansas," Harp said. "They asked me where I was from, and I told them Sam Houston State. They were like, 'You've got that one coach who was on Twitter.'"
Coach Matt Deggs' comments at a press conference went viral, and Harp wasn't surprised after playing two seasons for the Bearkats.
"That's kind of how our coach is," Harp said. "His definition is blue collar. We weren't any fancy people. We just want people who will work hard. He pushed us from Day 1. Carrying logs and crazy stuff like swimming in 40-degree water. We know how to work hard.
"We come in every day to practice ready to play. We love it. Our coaches are amazing. They'll be hard on us at times, but we know they love us, and they'll make us better. All the guys on the team want to play baseball in the future. We know we're not going to get there unless we work hard. We have a good mentality on the team."
Harp is a prime example.
He wasn't heavily recruited out of El Campo despite earning first-team all-state honors and leading the Ricebirds to the state tournament in his senior season.
Harp became the first Southland Conference freshman to record a 7-for-7 performance and did not make an error in his 20 starts in left field.
"You kind have to have that mindset," Harp said. "You expect to play, and you want to play. I just kind of kept working, and I got my shot, and I was able to capitalize on it."
Harp hit .289 with five home runs as a sophomore and had a team-leading 50 RBIs.
He earned third-team all-conference honors. He was also named to the Lubbock Regional all-tournament team after producing a team-best five RBIs.
"You're always going to see good pitching in that conference," Harp said. "It's a lot different than high school. You kind of have to go in there and kind of know what the pitcher is going to do to get you out.
You have to be a smart hitter, but be aggressive at the same time."
Harp hit .279 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in Kansas to help lead Hays to a share of the league title before returning home to get some rest before heading back to Huntsville.
"I wanted to go up there and get about 100 at-bats," he said.
"Just get comfortable up there, and that's kind of how it ended. I felt comfortable toward the end hitting the ball."
Harp is looking forward to his junior year at Sam Houston State, and expects the Bearkats to take the same approach as last season.
"They look for guys who work hard and are going to hustle," he said. "Guys who are going to put in the time to get better. Not just guys who know they're good.
"We're going to work hard," he added. "We want to do it again. We tasted it. Now, we want the whole thing. We were that close."