Royce Clayton Jr. has come a long way since his time in the Malibu Little League. Still, the 18-year-old baseball player can recall swinging for big hits as a preteen at Malibu Bluffs Park.
“Winning a lot of championships was fun,” said Clayton, who was a member of several MLL title teams. “Playing baseball and traveling to all-star games with my friends was fun.”
Now, Clayton, who helped lead the Oaks Christian Lions baseball team to a CIF title in the spring, is ready to take his bat and glove to the next level. After some contemplation, the 2022 high school graduate decided to join the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on the collegiate diamond next season.
Clayton said the main reasons he committed to the Rainbow Warriors squad was because of his relationship with Hawaii head coach Rich Hill and school’s proximity to the ocean.
“I wanted to go someplace close to the beach,” he said. “I landed on Hawaii because it is nice there.”
Clayton Jr. said he chose Hawaii over schools such as Concordia, Loyola Marymount, and Point Loma Nazarene. He is joining a squad that finished the 2022 season with a 28-24 record.
The outfielder said the Rainbow Warriors are getting a player who works on his game tirelessly to get better.
In fact, Clayton is already in the process of preparing for college baseball. He has been taking the plate for the California Cage Rats in the Sunset Baseball League, a league that features some of Southern California’s top amateur players.
Clayton said he struggled in his first SBL game, but has adjusted to the competition. He hopes to play in as many games as possible before he heads to Hawaii at the end of this month or the beginning of August.
“Playing with the college guys has been pretty cool,” Clayton noted. “It will definitely help me going into next year.”
Clayton had a .248 batting average with 27 hits, 14 RBIs, 24 runs and on a on-base percentage of .336 in the Lions’ 35-game season according to MaxPreps.com.
Oaks Christian defeated the La Quinta Blackhawks to win the CIF Southern Section Baseball Division 3 Championship on May 21. The Lions were defeated by the Newport Harbor Sailors in the championship game of the CIF SoCal Division Baseball Championships on June 4
Clayton’s younger brother, Elijah Clayton, is a standout player on the Lions and their dad, former Major League Baseball player Royce Clayton Sr., is Oaks Christian’s head coach.
The younger Clayton said winning a CIF championship and finishing runner-up in a second CIF tournament on the same roster as his family and friends was amazing.
“Playing with all of them was fun,” he said. “It was a lot of work getting to the championship obviously, but we all came together and had one goal in mind. That is what we wanted to do.”
Clayton made big plays in both CIF postseason spectacles. He hit a two-run homer to break open a tied game in the Lions’ 8-6 victory over Rio Mesa in the first round of the Southern Section playoffs. In Oaks Christian’s 4-2 win over Grossmont in the semifinals of the state playoffs, Clayton laid down an important bunt.
Clayton described himself as more of a defensive player than an offensive player. He wants to do whatever is necessary to help his squad win.
“I’m a big team guy,” he said. “I can always help my team on defense. Eventually, your bat will turn around if you are struggling at the plate. That is what I believe at least. Some days you will be on; some days you won’t. However, I always try to do something to help the team out.”
Clayton is passionate about baseball, but also played basketball, flag football, and soccer in the past. He still plays pickup soccer with his friends once or twice monthly.
He is always striving to get better at the sport he loves.
“I will keep working hard,” Clayton Jr. said.