Campbell River baseball player Brayden McClary has been awarded a scholarship to attend Corban University in Salem, Oregon and play varsity baseball there this fall.
McClary, 20, played the past two years with the Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo. While he was there, both regular seasons were cancelled due to COVID-19, but the team still played in exhibition games and scrimmages.
As a left handed-batter, McClary proved productive over his 2020-21 campaign, by recording a .410 batting average and a “handful” of doubles and triples as well as a home run. He finished with the highest batting average and the lowest strikeout-at-bat ratio on the team.
That success secured the attention of college scouts from throughout the United States — followed by scholarship offers from several schools. McClary ultimately decided to join the Corban University Warriors because they are an “up and coming” team located close to home, he said. Academically, he will be pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree.
Because his past two seasons were cancelled, McClary will likely retain two years of his college eligibility.
“I could be going in as a freshman, even though I’ve technically been in college for two years,” he said.
McClary has been known as a utility player who can contribute from multiple positions, including as a pitcher, catcher, infielder and outfielder. But he now wants to focus on his primary position in the outfield, while still playing at times in the corner infield.
“It’s hard to play both sides and have fun with it,” he said.
Playing outfield is “satisfying, especially when they get hit behind you, and you get to run and catch them over your head,” he said. “It’s a cool feeling.”
One of McClary’s goal for his career is to play in the West Coast League, a collegiate summer baseball league, with teams in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alberta.
Throughout his career, McClary played for the Campbell River Tyees, Nanaimo Pirates, North Island Royals, Parksville Royals and the North Island Cubs. He also competed in the BC Summer Games as part of Vancouver Island’s team.
McClary’s passion for baseball shows whenever he takes the field, said Hugh Gurney, head coach of the Cubs.
“He’s very knowledgeable — he knows a lot about the sport and that translates into the way he plays,” Gurney said.
For aspiring baseball players, McClary’s advice is to “just have fun with it,” he said.