Rattan’s AJ Clay – Athlete Spotlight Presented by McCurtain County National Bank

By Nick Hampton

To be sure, it’s nice to have a star or standout player on your sports team. But for that team to be successful, you also have to have your share of role players-the guys or girls that don’t grab the headlines but just go out and do their job every day. That’s the kind of player that AJ Clay has been for the Rattan Rams.

The cousin of Rams head coach Michael Clay, AJ is a senior that has been a designated hitter who hit around .300 last year but this year will play first base and do some pitching for Rattan.

“I just started playing when I was T-ball age and loved the game from the start. I just like everything about the game-the outdoor feel, playing with friends and trying to win,” said Clay.

He was a part of the Rams team that made it to the state playoffs last spring and he recalls what that week was like for him.

“It was great to get to go to state. The first game we played Tushka. They had a good team but we got out ahead. They ended up coming back but we hung on to beat them 6-5. The next day we were supposed to play Stonewall but we got rained out. So we went and hit at the batting cages and just relaxed and had a good time. So we had to play two games on Saturday and beat Stonewall 10-3. Then we had to play Wright City for the championship and they ended up beating us 5-1 but we had the tying run at the plate when the game ended. I’m kind of hoping we can try again this spring.” 

And according to coach Clay, a return trip to Oklahoma City might be a possibility.

“We’ve got five starters back but we’re also starting four freshmen who are pretty good. We’ve got every thing we need to have another good playoff run. We’ll have good pitching and good defense but the one thing we’ll have to improve on is being more consistent at the plate and be able to come up with more timely hitting if we want to be successful again.”

It will also mean that the role players of the past like AJ Clay, who says he always admired the play of “Big Papi”, David Ortiz, when he was growing up, will have to step into the limelight a little more this season.