Chase, Curletta show off strength in HR derby showcase - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Chase, Curletta show off strength in HR derby showcase

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Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 8:00 am

Their home runs nearly reached their names and faces that were splashed all over the monstrous scoreboard at Chase Field.

So, yeah, it was a pretty good time.

Desert Vista's Shaun Chase and Mountain Pointe's Joey Curletta participated in the Fifth Annual International Power Showcase on Dec. 30 and ended up being two of the more impressive hitters out of the 69 amateur players in the home-run derby style showcase.

"It was a great event," Curletta said. "All of the guys from Arizona (9) wanted someone from here to win it. We were rooting for each other because we didn't want someone else coming in here and winning it."

Chase, a senior, was in the featured age group and finished third overall. Chase was second after the preliminaries when he hit nine home runs before reaching 25 out swings. In the finals, he hit four more before making 10 outs.

He won an award for the longest home run with a wood bat at 436 feet.

"At first I was really nervous because I was the first one to go after drawing numbers out of a hat," said Chase, who hit 14 home runs for the Thunder last season. "After that I was swinging free and easy and trying to have fun. It was incredible to be hitting home runs at Chase Field."

Curletta, a junior, hit 10 dingers in the Babe Ruth age group to reach the finals and then won it with four more in the championship round.

"I didn't go there thinking I was going to win it but knew I had a good chance to do it," said Curletta, who hit seven home runs for the Pride last season. "I was just waiting on my pitch and trying to capitalize on it and not get over aggressive."

His blast of 462 feet with an aluminum bat earned him the Colossus of Clout award for the longest home run in the Babe Ruth age group, and he got a chance to meet Linda Ruth Tosetti, the granddaughter of Babe Ruth, when she presented him with the award.

"It was great meeting her," Curletta said. "She loves to talk about the Babe."

In the preliminaries the batters used wood bats for the first 10 outs and then switched to aluminum for the final 15 outs. Only metal bats were used in the finals. The pitching machine was set up 55 feet from home plate and the pitches were coming in at 55 mph.

While they gained some confidence and exposure because of the event, the most important part of it was the fact that each participant was swinging away for the Make a Wish Foundation based on pledges in a program called Home Runs that Help.

Chase was partnered Spencer Shores, 7, who has Ewing's Sarcoma (cancer of the eye) and Curletta was partnered with Carolyn "Ceci" Christenson, 15, who has a form of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disorder in which bone marrow does not produce blood cells properly.

"That was the best part of the whole thing," Chase said. "I don't know how much I raised. I started collecting (Monday). I was thinking about him when I was on the field. Here I am doing something I love to do and he is sick at such a young age. It put it all in perspective."

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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