She can make you swing and miss, and launch your pitch over the fence.
Tatum Clopton has rare two-way abilities.
Clopton has been an Oklahoma State Cowgirl since her first year in high school. The native of Lawrence, Kansas, committed to OSU after a visit during her freshman year, and after a few conversations with coach Kenny Gajewski, her mind was made up.
In Clopton’s first career game, she launched a grand-slam over the right field fence, then struck out three batters in her next two innings pitched. Clopton joined OSU’s program as a pitcher, but through her success as a hitter, has become a two-way player.
It is rare for a player to be successful in the circle and in the batter’s box, but for Clopton, it’s serene.
“Pitching and hitting are therapeutic for each other,” Clopton said. “If I don’t feel like pitching, I can go hit, and it’s the same the other way around. It’s incredible I get the opportunity to do both. Not many pitchers get that luxury.”
In OSU’s 26-2 victory over Cowley College on Tuesday in Stillwater, Clopton started the game as a designated hitter. In her first at-bat, Clopton rocketed a ball past the right-field pole.
It was foul.
Clopton eventually drew a quick walk, but in her next at-bat, launched a ball to the grass beyond the right field fence yet again, this time it was fair. Clopton finished the 10-inning fall-ball scrimmage with three hits, a walk, a home run and drove in five total runs.
Clopton then took to the circle in the fifth and sixth inning, striking out three batters and did not allow a single base-runner in two innings.
Gajewski has recognized the rare-talent, and said he has only coached one other player with similar dual-threat talent as Clopton.
“Samantha Show,” Gajewski said. “Show is as good as it gets. (Clopton) still has a long way before she can be Sam Show, but we’ll see where that goes.”
Show posted a 2.34 ERA and struck out 118 batters in her only season as a Cowgirl. In Show’s 2019 season, she also batted .333 and hit 20 home runs.
Michaela Richbourg, a fifth-year senior, has been able to admire and work with Clopton’s talent first hand. Richbourg occasionally catches for Clopton, and said she revels in Clopton’s pitching and hitting ability.
Clopton said she has not taken for granted the cooperation from all her teammates and coaches, who she credits is helping her develop into a Cowgirl.
Gajewski said he has noticed the effort Clopton has put in, and her ascendancy as a two-way player. Gajewski will continue to incorporate Clopton both in the lineup and in the circle.
“She’s forcing us to put her in there,” Gajewski said. “It is earned, and she has been earning it. I’m happy for her, she is a great player.”