Athlete of the week: Kam Crandall, Zimmerman, baseball: Solid contact
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Kam Crandall started whacking line drives for Zimmerman during his first call-up as a freshman and has built on that success ever since.
An infielder and pitcher, he hit .333 in ninth grade after joining the varsity late in the season, then hit .341 in 10th grade, with six doubles and six RBI.
Last spring, Crandall busted loose his junior year for team-leading .424 average, four homers, 11 doubles and 33 runs-batted-in, plus 15 stolen bases, helping the Thunder reach the section finals.
Crandall started his senior season with a 9-for-12 streak including three doubles, six RBI and seven runs in three games.
“Yeah, the ball looked a lot bigger that week than it really is,” said Crandall. “That’s the best I’ve ever hit.”
Just as exciting, Crandall signed UM-Crookston that week, too, becoming ZHS’s Division II recruit.
After two weeks, the 6-foot, 170-pound right-hander has a .455 mark with seven RBI in six games.
Crandall was “just stinging the ball all over” that first week, said coach Matt Krause.
Crandall is also 1-1 on the mound but currently battling a sore arm.
“When that curve is working he is lights out,” said Kraus, recalling a 17-strikeout game last year.
Crandall had a 6-2 mark last year, 3.93 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 46.3 innings. As a sophomore he was 1-5, 4.52 ERA and 31 K’s in 31 innings.
He also showcased his athletic ability and baseball instincts by picking 11 runners off base last year.
“He has a very quick move,” said Kraus. “He has an extremely strong arm and is fearless in the field. Which is what makes him a great infielder.”
Crandall has been a steady glove man with just nine errors in four seasons.
Asked what his career highlight has been so far, Crandall said the 9-for-12 week was close, but nothing could top the last day of school in 2010 when the Thunder won twice in the sectionals at Loretto — beating Orono on Crandall’s walk-off RBI double in the ninth, then avenging an earlier loss to Delano — to reach the section finals. They would lose the title game to Delano, but most of the team is back, aiming for another run at state.
Crandall’s other sport is football. He had a neck injury in ninth grade and didn’t play for two years, but rejoined the team as a senior, starting at safety and wide receiver, helping the Thunder post a 4-4 record in the rugged Mississippi 8.
“I did not want to regret not stepping back on the field in football,” said Crandall, “and I really had a lot of fun.”
Another sport he’s been associated with almost as long as baseball is karate. Starting in fourth grade, he’s worked up to third degree black belt, with PKS Studio in Elk River.
THE CRANDALL SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents, Tammy and Kevin; sister, Katie, 22 … Sports: baseball, football … Other activities: DECA, karate … Academics: “B” average … College plans: UM-Crookston, baseball, sports marketing
Favorite stuff — Class: advanced public speaking …. TV shows: “Sponge Bob” and “Simpsons” … Movie: “I Am Legend” …. Music: rap, especially Mac Miller … Food: Chipotle, especially steak burrito … Drink: Arizona tea … Teams: Twins, Vikings, Lakers … Athletes: Derrick Rose, Joe Mauer … Reading: Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine … Kickback: hunting, fishing