Todd Mattox’s streak ends, but he keeps going

Mattox (17) is currently batting .416 with a .497 on-base percentage. | Photos: Francis Marion Athletics

FLORENCE – There came a game recently that Francis Marion senior third baseman Todd Mattox went to the plate and did not reach base, either from a hit, walk, or being hit by a pitch.

 In the Patriots’ 8-5, 12-inning victory over Lander April 12, Mattox went 0-for-4. It was the first time Mattox did not reach base in an FMU game in more than two years.

“It’s definitely pretty cool,” he said. “I never envisioned myself as a guy who’s going to get on, especially as much as I did. But I play a lot of different roles on the team, and whatever roles I can play to help my team succeed is what I’m going to do.”

Mattox

In crafting his 79-game streak, the former Blythewood baseball standout hit safely in 67 of those games. He kept the streak—nine games shy of the NCAA Division II record—alive with a walk in three games, getting hit by a pitch in four games, and drawing a walk and getting hit in five games.

Throughout the streak, he batted .409 (132-for-323) with 80 runs scored.

In thinking about the streak, well, Mattox didn’t do so while he was playing in the middle of it. Much like no-hitters and perfect games, hitting and on-base streaks are the things one doesn’t focus on for fear of thinking too much about it.

“I wasn’t trying to think about it too much, because once I think about it sometimes bad things happen and bad things get in your head,” he said. “I just kept doing what I was doing, playing hard and enjoying every second.”

Mattox stresses enjoyment, and noting his contribution to FMU (27-13, 15-9 Conference Carolinas) this year and in previous years, he clearly enjoys playing baseball anywhere he can play it. He’s currently batting .416 (67-161) with a home run and 39 runs batted in and has a .497 on-base percentage (67 hits, 18 walks, 11 hit-by-pitches).

While the streak may have ended, recognition hasn’t. He was selected as the Conference Carolinas Baseball Player of the Week ending April 17. He batted .524 in four Patriot wins that week, with eight runs scored, three doubles, a home run and 10 RBI. His on-base percentage that week was .542.

As he said several times during an interview Tuesday, it’s about enjoyment and gratitude.

“It’s been pretty fun getting this extra year to play,” Mattox said, noting that because of the cancelled Covid season in 2020 he got an extra year of eligibility. “I don’t take this for granted. I’m just excited that I’ve got another year to play (this year).”

What boosts his excitement to play the game is that his teammates and coaches have the same mentality: do anything it takes to get on base, whether getting a hit, getting hit, or drawing a walk.

“Our coach really enjoys pressure situations when we score runs. It’s always good to have guys on base,” Mattox said. “If I were to get on base I’ve got a lot of confidence that they’ll move me around the bases to score. Anytime we get on base it’s great. A lot of our guys can manufacture runs in all sorts of ways.”

The Patriots finish the season with series against UNC Pembroke and King. They’re in a good position to close out the regular season well enough to earn a spot in the Conference Carolinas Tournament that begins May 4 in Wilson N.C., Mattox said.

“The UNC Pembroke series is really important for us to win,” he said. “If we can pull that series out and have a good weekend against King, we should be sitting in the top four, and we wouldn’t have to play in any play-in games.”

Mattox will graduate this spring, and once the season is over, he knows he’s got to move on. He’s realistic about his baseball career possibly coming to an end, but if he is able to extend his time on the diamond, he will do it.

“If I get an opportunity to play anywhere, whether in the minors or independent ball or somewhere like that, I’d like to take a chance at it,” he said. “I don’t get this stuff back. I’ve got my whole life to work, but baseball comes and goes. Whatever opportunity presents itself to continue playing, I’d like to try it.”

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