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Hays Eagles duo lighting up the summer

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Hayden Hutchison and Clayton Basgall have played baseball together for many years and are longtime close friends. This summer, the duo for the Hays Senior Legion baseball team has a friendly home run challenge.

"I think he has got a little power upper hand on me," Basgall said with a smile. "But we will see. We kind of like to battle back and forth."

Hutchison has a team-high five homers, while Basgall ranks second with three. The rest of the 20-14 Eagles have combined for four. That's not the only statistic that Hutchison and Basgall have distanced themselves from their team.

The duo, two of the few returners from the Eagles' state championship team last summer, have delivered big years and are on pace to either break or challenge several Legion records.

Hutchison, an all-state player for Hays High School in the spring, holds multiple Indian records, including single season batting average. This summer, he carries a .518 average, which would set the Legion record, with a .622 on-base percentage and .859 slugging percentage, all team-highs. As well, Hutchison, Kansas' all-time record holder for career doubles during the spring, has 14 doubles in 29 summer games with 39 RBIs. He has signed with baseball powerhouse Neosho (Kan.) Community College.

"It's really been something that I have always expected from myself," Hutchison said. "No one has higher expectations of me than I do for myself. I really respect the game, and I love it to death and I just go out there every time I can and try to win and do the best for my team."

Hutchison has also played well at shortstop, while Basgall has been at second and Layne Downing at third.

"I have felt so comfortable at short playing there in the spring," Hutchison said. "You don't see a whole lot of 210-pound shortstops around much, but playing there over the spring, I just feel comfortable there. I have got a good feel for it."

Basgall, a La Crosse graduate and Independence (Kan.) Community College signee, suffered a knee injury in football workouts last summer. He missed the last part of the summer baseball season, all of football and most of basketball. Basgall was a contributor on the Leopards' Class 1A state title winning track squad in the spring.

Basgall has never played spring baseball, but started playing catch as soon as he could in the offseason. In track, Basgall focused on baseball activities on a daily basis. He has felt "a lot more" comfortable this summer than past years.

"He does a good job of preparing himself," coach Brad Kelly said.

Basgall, the leadoff hitter, holds a .404 average with three homers and 27 RBIs with a .454 on-base percentage and a .623 slugging percentage. Only center fielder Dan Bittel (.361 average) is batting higher than .314. No one else has a slugging percentage above .451.

"Every time he ties up with me (in homers), I get one to get right above him," Hutchison, the No. 3 hitter, said. "It's just something in the books. It's just incredible in the fact that he comes right from a track season into baseball and is just so dominant out there, a five-tool player. I just couldn't imagine the level of talent that would be there if he had been in high school playing freshman, sophomore year, just playing throughout the whole four years."

On the mound, Basgall is 3-0 with a 1.22 earned-run average in 28.2 innings with two saves.

By summer's end, he could break into the all-time leaders for single season ERA.

"He has been raw over the years, but you really can't give him that label anymore," Hays Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher said. "He is a good player and he seems like a nice kid. I never hear him say much from the opposing side. From everything I have heard, he is a very good ballplayer, and it's scary to see what he would be able to do if he had a spring season behind him. He just picked up a bat end of May."

Basgall has six doubles and five triples and is already one off the top-10 list for triples in Legion history.

"It's just kind of luck of the draw, finding the gap and just kind of using my speed to my advantage a little bit that I have," Basgall said.