High School Baseball

State baseball tourney up next for State Am golfer from Clay County

Clay County senior pitcher Todd McDaniel might be on the mound against St. Xavier in the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Monday.

If so, McDaniel won't feel the heat of competition any more than when he played in the Appalachian Wireless Kentucky State Amateur golf championship at Kearney Hill Links this week.

Staring down a cleanup batter or a birdie putt is all about focus and confidence.

"The mental side is the most important thing in baseball and golf," said McDaniel, who shot 77-77—154 to miss the cut in the State Am.

McDaniel, who will play college golf at Kentucky, has straddled the two sports for two years.

He credits Jason Smith, his baseball coach, for being "real lenient on letting me miss a game if I'm not pitching.

"Coach plays golf, so he understands."

Earlier this spring, McDaniel missed a regular-season baseball tournament to qualify for the State Am.

A year ago this week, McDaniel played in a junior PGA tournament at Kearney. A few days later, he pitched for Clay County against eventual champ Harrison County in the state baseball tournament.

McDaniel, who only pitches for the Tigers, is 14-6 over the past two seasons.

"Todd is so tough mentally, he has no fear of any batter," Smith said. "Just like in golf, he plays his game no matter what golf course he's on."

When McDaniel first started high school, he considered basketball his best sport — partly, he said, because he's a distant cousin to Clay County hoops legend Richie Farmer.

But he gave up basketball after his sophomore year, knowing his future was brighter in golf and baseball.

He was right.

He set a boys' state record by playing in six state golf tournaments, and he's been in the past two state baseball tournaments.

"Eight state tournaments all together," he said. "That's awesome."