Picking up steam late in the season to help propel Owensboro baseball to one of its best years in recent memory, freshman catcher Eli Hampton has been named the 2023 Owensboro Times Player of the Year.
“I’m honored to receive this award, I’m very blessed to be surrounded by great coaching and great teammates,” Hampton said. “Receiving this award means a great deal to me, it shows that my hard work is paying off and that God’s blessings are with me.”
Hampton was a crucial part to Owensboro’s success in 2023, leading the team offensively with a .350 batting average, to go along with a team-leading three home runs and 15 RBIs in the process. His efforts at the plate and behind it helped the Red Devils quickly turn things around in 2023, finishing the season 17-11 overall while grabbing their first 9th District Championship since 2018.
“I felt that this year was a great year for me,” Hampton said. “I think I grew as a player and learned to slow the game down and be more in the moment. At the start of the season things were a little slow for me, but the last three weeks of the season our team started to really come together and I felt like it made it easier on me to play my game.”
He and the Red Devils clicked at the right time as well, as his hot streak at the plate helped lead the Red Devils to a strong postseason run. This was something he set out to do coming into the season and was ecstatic to make it happen.
“Personally, the only goal I had was to win a district championship with my teammates,” Hampton said. “I wanted our team to compete with every team in our district and be recognized as a contender for years to come. I think we accomplished our goal… I will remember forever, winning a district title with my best friends and proving to everyone that we are legit as a team and program.”
Eli credits the talent God has given him, hard work and exceptional coaches and teammates to the strong year he had—one he will never forget because he was able to win a district title with his best friends and prove to everyone that Owensboro was legit as a team and program.
“Being a part of this team and taking the steps that we did this season only shows what we are capable of and the potential that this group has,” Hampton said. “Looking forward, I think next season we will be able to fully embrace and build on the talent that we have. This team and program is growing stronger with every game and I’m blessed to be a part of it. We have taken plenty of hard knocks and we have stayed together and we look forward to the next several years.”
And there are plenty of big moments that Hampton will look back on from his freshman season, including numerous walk-offs and his huge home run against Daviess County in the district tournament. Eli is thankful to have had his family supporting him all season long as well, joining his coaches and teammates in pushing him to be the best he can be.
“My mom, dad and grandparents have supported me and challenged me to be the best that I can be, to be a leader in all situations,” Hampton said. “My coaches have been great teachers and mentors and I’m grateful for the investment that they had made in me, not only as a player but equally as a person. Lastly, there is no way that I can’t give thanks to my brother Evan. We are twins and we push each other in every way possible. He’s my best friend and we compete at anything and everything.”
This off-season he wants to keep developing his craft behind the plate and strengthen his arm, hoping to also to sharpen my skills as a hitter against elite pitching. Because at the end of the day, he loves playing against top-notch competition and wants to pick up right where he left off next season.