WHITEWRIGHT — Jake Claborn has spent years honing his craft on the pitcher’s mound.
There was no bigger time of growth than between his freshman and sophomore year when he made a trip to Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch outside of Houston.
“It’s repetition of mechanics. You have to flexible. You have to get stronger,” Claborn said. “It was a fun place. My velo went from 75 to 83 (miles per hour). If I keep doing things I felt like I can play college baseball.”
Through that work and dedication, he has lost just twice in the past two years heading into his senior season and doesn’t expect to stop having success.
“A few weeks ago at a showcase I hit 88. I want to be in the low 90s when baseball season gets here,” he said.
With a strong attitude and a right arm to match, Claborn announced he would play baseball for the University of the Ozarks.
He chose the Eagles over Murray State and University of Arkansas Rich Mountain Community College.
“It was easy to narrow it down,” said Claborn, who plays third base when not on the mound. “I felt like it’s going to get me where I want to be. I love the campus and the atmosphere as well.”
During his junior season he was selected second-team all-district as a pitcher with a 5-1 record, 2.07 earned run average and 51 strikeouts in 50.2 innings and helped the Tigers go 17-6 and return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, losing in the bi-district round to Gunter.
“We’re going to try to eliminate mistakes in practice,” Claborn said. “I’m hoping we can go pretty deep this year.”
As a sophomore he was named the District 10-3A Newcomer of the Year with a 7-1 record and 2.37 ERA and 63 strikeouts.
“I can locate the ball. I can locate any of my pitches,” Claborn said. “If I give up a hit or something, most pitchers it can get in their head. I just focus on what’s in front of me.”
The University of the Ozarks is a Division III program in Clarksville, Ark. which went 16-23 last season and 9-12 in the American Southwest Conference. The prior season the Eagles went 20-20 overall and 14-10 in conference play to reach the ASC Tournament for the first time since 2009. Those 14 victories were the most in conference play by the program since 1996.
“I look forward to it. It’s going to be fun,” Claborn said. “Non-conference I’ll start and if I prove myself when we get to conference they’ll see about putting me in that rotation.”