After Nearly Dying, Engel Puts Up Big Numbers

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — If college baseball had a Comeback Player of The Year, Drury University RF Clay Engel would have been a landslide winner last season.

He hit .337 with 21 doubles, 12 homers, 5 triples, 61 RBI and stole 12 of 13 bases in 54 games.

Those are incredible numbers when you consider he nearly died two years prior.

Engel was lucky to be alive after suffering a skull fracture, fractured vertebra and leg injuries which required skin grafts during a serious hiking accident in the summer of 2017.

He had just finished his freshman season with the Panthers and was preparing to play summer ball for the Denver Generals of the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League.

Engel, who enjoyed hiking back home in Springfield, Mo., was in Denver for about a week and realized that he had a great opportunity in the coming days to go hiking.

His job that summer was being an umpire beside his playing duties.

He drove to Fort Collins and worked several games in the morning and afternoon. When Engel finished, he got dinner and drove to Estes Park which was 30 minutes away.

 “I got into Estes Park and took my time surveying the area. There was a full moon out so you could see quite a bit of the area.

“I parked on the side of the road at about 9 p.m., got out and hiked up the mountain which was a little more than a mile up. It was a nice, upward climb but not too difficult.”

Engel said he didn’t hike with anybody else and never left a message with his host family that he was going to hike in Estes Park that evening and would be there the next day.

“I had camping gear on my back which included food, water and a hammock to sleep in. I didn’t wear a head lamp on my forehead since there was a full moon that evening. It was night time, but the area was lit up enough for me to see where I was going.

“I have done a lot of hiking in the past in Springfield, Mo. and also in northern Arkansas. But I had never hiked in the Rocky Mountains before.

“The area I was hiking in was mountainous and rocky but there were trees all the way up. It was more or less like a forest that I was walking through as I started my ascent.

“I was looking forward to spending that evening and the next day in this area. There are a lot of things to do.”

Engel said when he arrived near the top of the mountain, it was like a bluff which had exposed rocks.

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