Cam Collier has no shortage of tools, and he displays them all around the diamond.
In 2021, the Mount Paran Christian sophomore showed a diverse pitching arsenal that left opponents guessing, home run power as a batter, defensive consistency as a third baseman and the agility of a gazelle as a runner.
However, Collier’s greatest skill is not limited to the position he is playing at any given time. He carries a finisher’s mentality all over the field.
“He wants the better, the harder situation. The more difficult the situation, the more he enjoys it,” Mount Paran coach Kyle Reese said. “You run across those (difficult) paths a lot of the time, and Cam is a guy that absolutely thrives in them. Whether he is in the batter’s box or on the mound, the game’s on the line, he wants to determine the outcome of the game. He thrives on that stuff. He loves that kind of stuff.”
For the year, Collier hit .434 with 40 RBIs, 13 home runs and tacked on 19 stolen bases. His performance on the field earned him the award as the 2021 Cobb County Baseball Player of the Year.
Collier seemed to save his biggest performances for the grandest stages.
In Game 2 of the Class A Private semifinals, Mount Paran was tied 2-2 with Fellowship Christian. Collier patiently waited for a strike at the plate, and when the pitcher gave him the chance after tossing two balls, Collier took full advantage.
“I was thinking in my head that I’m trying to go deep right here. I got the pitch to do it, and I hit a home run,” he said.
Mount Paran advanced to the championship series against Wesleyan, where Collier started at third base in the Eagles’ 4-0 Game 1 victory. Then, Collier, who has a five-pitch arsenal that includes a curveball, slider, changeup, two-seam fastball and four-seam fastball to rack up 76 strikeouts and a 0.71 ERA in 49 innings, was a no-brainer start at pitcher in Game 2.
Collier loaded the bases in the first inning with three walks, but avoided giving up a run by striking out the final batter. Mount Paran scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and one in the second.
That was more than Collier needed. Once again true to his clutch brand, the sophomore finished out the 3-0 shutout with nine strikeouts, four hits and four walks on the stats sheet.
“After that first game we won, I knew it was all on me for the second game,” Collier said. “I got the run support. I was on the mound and the boys were just making all the plays, so it was so much fun.”
Fans regularly see Collier come up big in games, but Reese said he is a guy that comes to practice every day to work. The son of former major leaguer Lou Collier said his performances in the clutch come from a lifetime of practice.
“There’s nothing really that can level the type of intensity that (a big moment) has in the game,” Cam Collier said. “I just keep working on it, working on it, working on it until it becomes second-nature.”
The Louisville commit’s practice at the plate earned him Mount Paran’s triple crown — a title given to a player who leads their team in batting average, RBIs and homers over the course of a season.
“He’s an incredibly physically talented player,” Reese said. “I mean, he’s a fantastic offensive player, but he also only made two errors all year at third base, but then he was 6-0 on the mound. Then, he was a triple crown guy on our team. It’s been a while since we have had someone lead us in all three categories.”
Collier is the No. 2-ranked player in the nation in Perfect Game’s class of 2023 rankings. All this success as an underclassman has not gone to his head though, as Reese will attest to.
“If he doesn’t get a good hit, he doesn’t get in the dugout and pout. He goes to the person behind him and motivates him, and is the first person to get up and congratulate every person that crosses home plate,” Reese said. “He is a good teammate. That’s the main thing. Of course, people see him as just a real talented athlete. The coaching staff and guys in our program see a guy who is just a great teammate.”