Through 21 games this season, Evanston Outlaws pitcher and utility fielder Clayton Moyles has been a vital part of the team’s success, both as a left-handed presence on the mound and a consistent hitter at the plate.
“Clayton has been doing well for us — he’s been pitching well, hitting the ball well and is turning into an all-around good player,” said Outlaws manager Chad Thompson. “He’s bringing another left-handed arm for us, which is nice. That puts us at three leftys in the rotation right now, which we’ll take any day.”
The Outlaws have compiled an 11-10 record heading into this weekend’s tournament in Jackson; though the team went 1-3 in last weekend’s Ross Kesterson Memorial Tournament in Evanston, three of the four games the Outlaws played were decided by one run.
“Things are going pretty good so far,” Moyles said of the season. “We’ve had a few downs, but we’ve overcome them. It’s been fun. Those Utah Schools [Layton and Lone Peak at the Ross Kesterson Memorial] are good.”
Moyles has appeared in 19 games this season, batting a healthy .286 with 13 RBIs and is tied for third on the team in doubles with four.
“Clayton is definitely bigger and stronger this year than in years past,” Thompson said. “He’s gotten quicker — just his speed. He has a natural talent for baseball.”
On the mound, Moyles has pitched 12.2 innings in six appearances, and is third on the team in strikeouts with 17. When he’s not pitching, the soon-to-be senior and basketball player at Kemmerer High School is content to play wherever Thompson thinks he can best help the team.
“We’re hoping to fit him into our starting rotation at some point, which would possibly put us at five starters deep,” Thompson said. “That would be really nice if we can make that happen. He’s been playing a little third base for us this year, and some first base, as well — he’s even played a little bit in the outfield. He’s one of those ‘plug and play’ players — we can almost put him anywhere. It’s a little harder to put him in some positions because he’s left-handed.”
Moyles’ love of baseball was instilled in him at an early age by his dad and his grandpa, both of whom played in their youth.
“My grandpa played baseball, and he was good — he played for a minor league team, kind of like the [Salt Lake] Bees,” Moyles explained. “My dad played baseball and football, but he decided to go the football route for college.”
A fixture on the Little League fields since he and his family moved to Kemmerer in the third grade, Moyles ran into the same problem as his friend and current Outlaws’ teammate Caysen Smith: With local interest in baseball at the Babe Ruth level on the decline, he needed to find another team.
“About three years ago, my dad found out about the Outlaws,” he explained. “Here in Kemmerer, we were losing our Babe Ruth programs, so he’s like, ‘Do you want to play for Evanston?’ And I told him yes, because Evanston was playing a lot more games than Kemmerer was at the time.”
Moyles played two seasons with the Evanston B team before being moved up for this season. Like many of his teammates, he can play multiple positions, though he enjoys being on the mound the most.
“I like both, but I prefer pitching,” he said. “When you’re on the mound, it’s just you and your catcher, really. You just have to have confidence in yourself, and throw strikes. Then have confidence in your team to back you up.”
Moyles said he enjoys being able to share the experience of playing for the Outlaws with Smith — the two have been friends and teammates since the third grade.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Moyles said. “It’s nice having someone I grew up with there, and you always have someone you can catch a ride with to practice if you need it.”
The Outlaws are on the road to Jackson this weekend for the WY-ID Border War, with games scheduled against Thunder Ridge (Idaho Falls) and Idaho Falls on Saturday.
“There will be some good competition out there, but I think we’ll come out on top,” Moyles said. “As for the rest of the season, we’d like to make it to the state championship game, but we just have to take it step by step. Keep chipping away, keep doing what we’re doing.”
With the season almost at the midway point, the Outlaws continue to improve with each game and tournament; if he stays healthy, Moyles will continue to play a big part in that success, according to his coach.
“Off the field, he’s a good kid,” Thompson said. “Even when he’s not in a game, he’s excited and cheering on his teammates. He’s constantly trying to help out other people with things they may be struggling with. He’s really upbeat, all the time.”