May 16, 2018 08:54 PM
(ABC 6 News) – In Minnesota high school softball, a sophomore pitcher, and outfielder, Lexi Chase, has kept the Chatfield Gophers in the conversation for a Class AA state tournament berth this year—because simply said, she does it all.
“She’s getting stronger every year,” Gophers head coach Mark Eickhoff said.
Chase is young, but even though she’s only a sophomore, she’s played for the Gophers’ varsity softball team since 7th grade.
“She just keeps working hard at it,” Eickhoff said. “She plays all winter, and she played in Rochester dome ball and Austin dome ball.”
This spring, Chase has reached a high level of play on the softball diamond, prompting the question—can she get better?
“I don’t know if she can get any better,” Eickhoff, who also calls her pitches for her during games, said. “It’s fun working with her. She’s got a good sense of humor.”
Through Wednesday, in the second spot in the Gophers’ batting order, Chase has a .446 batting average, two home runs, 11 RBI, and has scored 15 runs.
“My hitting has been pretty solid and it’s been consistent so far,” Chase said.
Chase’s numbers don’t lie, she’s a great hitter—but she may be an even better player in the pitcher’s circle.
“She’s got a better curveball this year,” Eickhoff said. “Her ‘rise’ ball is really good, that’s her main pitch. When she’s throwing a good rise ball, that’ll go up a foot, foot and a half, and not too many girls in high school have seen a pitcher like that.”
“You call (your arm motion) your rocket,” Chase said. “The lower your rocket, the more it’s going to rise.”
As a pitcher, this season, Chase’s numbers have been jaw-dropping. Through Wednesday, Chase is 9-0, she’s struck out 111 batters in 54 innings and holds a microscopic earned run average (ERA) of 0.13—while only walking two batters all season long.
“Yea I’m happy, I’m pitching pretty good right now I would think,” Chase humbly said.
“She has a lot of different pitches that she uses,” Chase’s catcher, junior Shelby Isensee, said. “It’s kind of fun like moving around and trying to get to certain spots where she pitches.”
On May 1 against GMLOK this year, Chase threw her first-career perfect game, striking out 13 batters in five innings in a 13-0 win over the Bulldogs.
“I was just thinking about throwing one more strike, one more pitch,” Chase recalled. “I liked it, I liked the pressure (of throwing a perfect game). I was finally happy to get one.”
“In the third inning, I told her ‘I’m going to put another pitcher in,’ and she was like ‘oh, that’s fine,’ then she looked at me and said ‘no, I’m going to keep pitching’,” Eickhoff said. “I knew after the 4th inning, she was settled in and they weren’t going to touch her.”
Since her perfect game, Chase has tossed a few shutouts and has allowed only a few hits over that time—but it’s not perfect, and in Chase’s words, somewhat of a ‘disappointment’.
“Honestly it is (disappointing if I allow any hits),” Chase said.
Perfect or not, the sky is certainly the limit for the Gophers’ sophomore stud—and it’s going to be hard to catch up to “the Chase.”
“She’s only going to get stronger,” Eickhoff said. “I know she’s not going to stop working at it. She’s going to work at it all winter, she never quits pitching. She’ll only get stronger.”
“My ultimate goal is to get 21 strikeouts in 7 innings,” Chase said. “You never know, you might get there, so you never know.”
Chase and the Gophers return to the diamond on Friday versus Southland.
Updated: May 16, 2018 08:54 PM
Created: May 16, 2018 04:55 PM
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