Caleb Hamilton is enjoying college life and having a grand old time. The former Woodinville baseball star walked onto Oregon State University last fall, not knowing what to expect. But early into his first season in Corvallis, he’s quickly become a starter at third base.
As of this writing, the Beavers are 7-2 and Hamilton is hitting .300 (9 for 30). The fact he’s only committed one error at the hot corner indicates the stage isn’t too big.
“The college game is a lot faster than high school and even summer ball,” he said. “It’s the pitching. Every guy that you’re going against is just as good as you or better. We’re playing some Major League prospects. It’s pretty difficult but once you start to play you kind of get used to it.”
At this time last year, Hamilton played his games before dozens of spectators at Woodinville High School. But a couple weeks ago, as he played his first collegiate game in Tempe, Arizona, the crowd numbered several thousand.
“I was pretty nervous like any freshman would be,” he said. “You’re playing in front of all these people and you don’t know what to expect. The coaches are throwing you in there to see how you respond. My hands were shaking a bit and I had cotton mouth. I needed a little water. But it’s all about the experience and getting into a groove and being confident. And it’s really cool to take a step back and realize who you’re playing. In high school, you’re playing teams like Inglemoor and Bothell, and now suddenly you’re playing Indiana and other big time programs.”
Hamilton was asked for the biggest difficulty he’s faced so far.
“All of these college pitchers have good velocity on their fastballs,” he said. “If they get the chance they can blow it by you. But the hardest thing overall is that opposing teams are going to have scouting reports on you. They’re going to write down your tendencies. If you like to hit away, if you like to pull the ball, they’re going to pitch away from those tendencies. So you have to balance working on those tendencies and try not to do the same thing over and over again.”
Hamilton’s most intriguing moment must have come on February 24th, when he took the field against his former hometown team — the Washington Huskies.
“That was an interesting experience,” he said. “It was a hard fought game. It was different seeing the hometown team while playing for a different team. But it was good.”
The Beavers won 3-2, and Hamilton hammered the Huskies on one of his at bats, when he reached for a fastball that was high and away, and smacked it down the right field line.
“The right fielder dove for the ball and missed it,” Hamilton said. “I slid into third. It felt really good.”
As of March 1st, Oregon State was playing host to Wright State, with games against Northern Illinois and Ohio State looming in the near future.
And speaking of the future, the Beavs’ youth movement includes a trio of youngsters slated to be mainstays for the next four seasons.
“There are three freshmen starting,” Hamilton said. “We have another freshman starting at shortstop (Trever Morrison) and another behind the plate (Logan Ice), so you’ve got the young bucks in the infield. It’s really cool to see the juniors and seniors mentoring us three.”
Courtesy photo. Former Woodinville standout Caleb Hamilton is now playing for the Oregon State Beavers.