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Chase comfortable behind Thunder plate

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Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11:00 pm

He’s experienced the hype, limelight and celebrity status.

But even a trip to the 2006 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., as a member of the Ahwatukee Little League All-Stars team known as the ‘Dawgs’ wasn’t enough to settle the jitters when Shawn Chase started playing on the Desert Vista baseball team as a sophomore rookie.

On top of that,  Chase had an opportunity to play first base, pitch a few innings like he did in the World Series, and play an understudy role behind senior Sean Smedley behind the plate.

“That year was really big,” Chase said, “because as a sophomore you’re nervous about messing up.”

This season, his second on the varsity, is different.

“With that year behind me I can go out there as a junior with more confidence,” he said.

After nibbling at three positions, Chase is a confirmed catcher now.

“I kind of dropped that pitching role,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed catching because you get to be a leader and be vocal. I’m a vocal person anyway so I just try to lead my team from behind the plate.”

Chase has also begun to look to his future in baseball.

“I know I’m not good enough to be a Division I college pitcher, so I’ve been focusing on catching,” he said.

And even with experience, that isn’t as easy as it looks.

“You really have to focus and master all the skills,” Chase said. “There are so many things you have to learn and mental things to do to hone those skills.”

Ever since his Little League days Chase has also been a better than average hitter with power.

It was part of what got him in the lineup last season.

“Hitting has always been my strong suit,” Chase said. “I’m out there with my dad (Russ) a lot so even before I was a pitcher I was a hitter. But when you’re not hitting you can’t let it bother you. There’s always the next time so you have to have a short memory in baseball.”

However, being on the mound Chase has an idea of what might be going through the opposing pitcher’s head.

“Pitching helps, too, because you learn to pick up a pattern,” he added. “And catching helps you pick up the ball better when you’re at the plate.”

Some day people will probably have to go to the scrapbook to realize that at one time Chase was a Little League World Series pitcher who struck out 10 batters in the Dawgs 1-0 victory over Lemont. Ill., in Williamsport.

He’s a catcher now.

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

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