A leaner Griffin Boyd has been outstanding at third base for the Mustangs, and he’s been a potent run scorer and producer for the American Legion team. - Jamie Lusch photo

Breaking the mold

Griffin Boyd hasn't exactly had it easy over the course of his playing career here in Medford.

Expectations are huge when you consider the athletic endeavors of his own immediate family, with father Randy a second-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1981 secondary draft and older brother Logan a standout in his own right entering his senior season at Oregon State University.

Throw in the exploits of his Singler relatives and the shadow looms that much larger.

But that shadow wasn't the one seemingly holding the younger Boyd back, it was the one trailing him every step of the way.

The 6-foot Boyd weighed in at 207 pounds toward the end of last summer, and admittedly it wasn't all muscle.

His skills on the baseball diamond were plentiful, mind you, but Medford Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger didn't hesitate in pulling the senior-to-be aside to discuss how he might be able to become even better.

"I just spoke to him after the season and said, hey, you can't let your weight stand in your way of playing at the next level," recalls Kensinger.

It was a conversation that Boyd immediately took to heart, and has since allowed the South Medford High graduate to blossom into one of the state's top players on the American Legion AAA circuit.

Now down to a svelte 180 pounds, Boyd is fielding his position at third base with aplomb and still racking up big numbers for the Mustangs. His .413 batting average is second on the team, and he leads the squad with 47 runs scored, 42 RBIs and 23 extra-base hits, including 18 doubles and four home runs.

Boyd also boasts a .922 fielding percentage, often charging in to make a play where others might sit back in order to forego the chance for error and allow an infield hit.

"He's so much more mobile now, and he's still strong," says Kensinger. "He's still hitting for power, but his agility is twice as what it was last year. He's getting to a lot of balls that he did not get to last year, and he's throwing very accurately. Our defense has been real solid and he's a big part of that."

It hasn't been an easy transformation, for sure, but Boyd truly believed in the process and hasn't wavered in his dedication to become the best baseball player he can be.

"That was a lot of hard work on his part," Kensinger says of Boyd dropping nearly 30 pounds. "It's tough being a teenager with the kind of food and all the other stuff out there."

Getting exercise wasn't a problem for Boyd, who was also a valuable part of South Medford's football and basketball teams in between baseball seasons.

But changing his eating habits ... now that was tough.

"I used to eat a lot of junk food and I kinda cut down on snacking and on soda pops and stuff like that," says Boyd. "It took some discipline, some willpower but it was worth it. It's made a big difference."

Once the excess weight came off, Boyd was able to build his body back up with more lean muscle mass and that has allowed him to tear the cover off the ball this summer. He was hitting nearly .500 through the first month of the season, and there aren't many cheapies among his 62 hits entering tonight's twin bill at Grants Pass.

"When he gets to 3-0 (in the count), pretty much he gets the green light every time," says Kensinger.

Boyd showed last year he has a knack for turning his game up in the summer season, and is on that same path this year. His senior campaign with the Panthers was solid to be sure, but nothing like the numbers he's been able to put up with the Mustangs hitting in the No. 3 hole.

"I just think all-around our team is a lot better in the summer, obviously, so I think that has a big part to do with me taking my game up to the next level," says Boyd. "One through nine in our lineup is 3-4 hitters on everyone else's team, so you can't really pitch around anyone."

As far as his own prowess, Boyd credits his dad and brother for helping mold his game, and his entire extended family for always being there to support his efforts.

"They stress the whole issue of being a competitor, where even if you're not having your best game you've still got to go out and compete," he says.

And even though he sometimes still hears his brother's name called out when he comes to the plate, or sees "Logan Boyd" in the paper on occasion instead of his own name in Mustang recaps, it doesn't really bother the younger Boyd.

"I don't look at it as a negative," he says of being Logan's younger brother. "It's more of a positive than anything else just because he passes down the knowledge he gets from his college coaches to me."

In truth, the mix-ups tend to irk Logan Boyd the most.

"I just feel bad for the kid because he's kinda got to live in my shadow," he says, "but Griff has kinda developed his own route and that's just what's making me happy. He's transformed his body into something I'd never been able to believe was possible and is just having fun with it all and looking forward to playing for Western Oregon."

"I'm really proud of him and I couldn't be more happy for him," adds Logan Boyd. "He's worked hard at it and he's deserving of every little piece that he's gotten. He's got such a strong mind ... he just worries about what he has to take care of. When you have the mental game right like he has, that takes care of everything."

Reach reporter Kris Henryat 776-4488, or e-mail

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