• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Erie catcher Clint Allen is the 2016 baseball player of the year after leading the Tigers to the Class 4A final four.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Erie's Clint Allen heads in the seventh inning against Delta in the Class 4A baseball tournament May 20.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Erie senior Clint Allen hit .475 with 38 hits, scored 26 runs, drove in 27, walked 11 times and stole 12 bases.



The prep baseball season for Erie’s Clint Allen wasn’t defined by one day, but the senior certainly has a specific afternoon he’ll always be able to rehash.

It’s one that coach Harold Simmons is still shaking his head about in disbelief — a ‘you remember that one time when …’ moment to be true.

It was the second day of the Class 4A state tournament, and Allen was called to pitch for the first time this season against a Mountain View team that was seeded No. 1 overall. The thing was, it was the 11th inning of the second game of the day, and Allen had caught the previous 17 frames of the afternoon.

He made the 23 pitches he threw that day count, getting the win to help Erie to its first final four, but it was the thousands of pitches he saw both behind and at the plate throughout the year that led to him being named‘s baseball player of the year.

Allen, who transferred from Fort Lupton after his sophomore year, converted to catcher this year from second base when Erie was in a pinch for a backstop. It ended up being a great move for Simmons, who also had a fairly unproven pitching staff at the start of the season.

“We knew we were going to be in need of a catcher, and we asked him to get some catching innings leading up to the spring. He’s basically been catching for a year, and now he’s getting offers to catch in college,” Simmons said of Allen, who caught 13 baserunners on steal attempts and picked off two more. “Early on, when we were trying to figure out our pitching staff and what direction we were going there, he was just a steady presence behind the plate and allowed all those guys to settle in.

“He figured out everybody’s stuff and was a tremendous asset to our staff, for sure.”

What he did in the field would have had Allen among the team’s most valuable players, but he was driven to be a force on offense after a sub-par junior season in which he hit just .200.

Starting with a three-hit game against Holy Family in the third game of the year, Allen soared to the top of the team standings in many categories hitting .475 with 38 hits — half of those going for extra bases. He failed to get a hit in just five of the team’s 25 games, and had two or more hits 10 times.

He was better in the postseason (.500) and with runners in scoring position (.567). He scored 26 runs, drove in 27, walked 11 times and struck out on just four occasions.

Oh, and he swiped 12 bags, too. As a catcher.

“After practice I know a lot of us wanted to just keep hitting, but I wanted to take extra batting practice all the time just to keep into it,” Allen said. “I was just hungry for it. Last year I may have slacked a bit and it wasn’t acceptable, so this year I think I got back to it and strived to be the best I could be.”

“We don’t think we saw a better catcher than him all year, and we saw some pretty dang good ones,” Simmons said. “I mean, usually you’ll run for your catcher but with Clint, we had to let him run for himself, too. He’s one of those guys who if he hits a ball down the line it’s an automatic double. He has power at 5-foot-8, and running that well is a great bonus.”

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