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Redbank Valley Hurler Commits to Clarion University
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – As spring practices for the 2018 high school baseball season began in March, Bryan Layton felt confident that he would be part of an NCAA Division III roster for the 2019 season. His parents, coaches, and anyone else that followed his baseball career assumed the same thing.
Although he appeared to be headed down the D-III path, there was something in the back of his mind that caused him to take a detour.
“I really want to try to make a Division II roster as a pitcher,” Layton told his coaches in March. “I know I can prove myself if someone just gives me a chance.”
So by the middle of March, Layton had reignited his college search in the hopes of accomplishing his dream of cracking a Division II roster.
“Although it was getting to be a little late in the recruiting process, I started exploring options that were still available to me,” Layton explained. “I really zeroed in on Clarion because I knew that they had my major.
Clarion is also close to home which will allow my family to continue to watch me play for the next four years.”
From there, Layton explained that his coaches initiated discussions with Clarion University coaches for the next couple of weeks. Those discussions culminated with one of Clarion’s assistant coaches coming to watch him pitch against Clarion Area in late April. It was at that game where the future commitment really began to take shape.
Layton struck out eleven batters in six innings of work against Clarion and was hitting 84 on the radar gun. He had never topped 82 before.
“Looking back, that strong start helped to get their attention in my opinion,” Layton explained.
Layton’s dream became a reality last week when he became only the fourth player in the history of Redbank Valley baseball to commit to play at the Division II level when he verbally committed to become a Clarion University Golden Eagle. The verbal commitment took place following a successful outing on the mound in Redbank Valley’s 16-1 victory over Clarion-Limestone last Wednesday evening.
In the victory, Layton hit 86 miles per hour.
Layton could not be more happy for deciding to take that detour.
“I’m extremely excited to get the opportunity to play at Clarion for the next four years. It’s also a huge relief to finally wrap up the whole college search process.”
Bulldog’s manager, Craig Hibell, was the last Redbank Valley baseball player to play at the D-II level. Hibell was a pitcher at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 2009-2012. Although he is thrilled for the opportunity that has been presented to Layton, he will most certainly miss seeing him take the mound in the red and white next season.
“Bryan has been Mr. Reliable to our program for four years. We could always count on him to get outs and provide the necessary innings that an ace of the staff can. He’s the best pitcher I’ve ever coached and one of the best I’ve seen in the KSAC in the last five years.”
The numbers most certainly back up Hibell’s claims about Layton.
This season alone, he has fifty-four strikeouts to just five walks in only twenty-seven innings pitched. Opponents are batting a mere .188 against him and he sports a 2.07 ERA.
For his career, Layton has struck out one hundred and seventy batters while only walking twenty in that same time frame.
He also holds the RVHS record for most strikeouts in one game as he fanned seventeen batters in six innings of work against Cranberry earlier this season.
Hibell, who readily admits that he was skeptical of Layton’s ability to crack a D-II roster at the beginning of the season, states that Layton’s development as a pitcher over the past calendar year has been very impressive to watch.
“His development over the past year saw him take a huge leap both physically and mentally. Last year his fastball would touch 81 miles per hour, but not often. Now he is consistently touching 83-84 miles per hour with some topping out at 86 miles per hour. When he is done with high school and can put some more focus into his pitching, he could develop even more velocity.”
Hibell believes that Layton’s transition to the PSAC will be a competitive challenge for Layton.
“I think his transition to the PSAC will be a challenge that he will embrace. He’s always wanted to pitch against the toughest teams to measure himself up against strong competition. He needs to develop a changeup that he can throw with confidence in games but his velocity and other off-speed pitches will be a good starting point for him.”
Layton is thankful for the support that he has received to help make this opportunity possible.
“I want to thank my mom and dad for all of their unwavering support over my entire playing career and beyond. I also want to thank Coach Hibell and Coach Gold for what they’ve done for me over the past four years and how they helped me accomplish my goal of playing college baseball. I also can’t thank the coaching staff at Clarion enough for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself.”
Layton plans on majoring in Biology at Clarion before eventually moving on to optometry school upon completion of his undergraduate studies.
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