BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – Kokomo High School has a long tradition of producing pitchers ready for the next level. This year is no exception after right-hander Chase Pearce signed a letter of intent to play this fall at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois. Pearce said his summer squad, the Indiana Eagles, has close ties to Oakton and that helped influence his decision.
“They have sent a lot of players there, and Oakton was interested in me,” said Pearce. “I made a visit, liked the area, and one of my catchers will be there. And I liked Skokie, where one of the campuses is located. There is a lot to do, and it is close to Chicago. And I get to live with teammates, which is tight. My passion is baseball and that is what I love to do.”
“I love these types of days,” said Kokomo head coach Sean Swan. “It is a culmination of a lot of years of hard work on their part and their families part. Getting to see them take their dream to the next level and continue playing after high school is a neat thing. Chase has really willed himself into being a college baseball player. He decided early on he wanted to be a college baseball player, he knew it would take a lot of hard work and energy, and he did that.”
Pearce said as a pitcher, having the same catcher will help his transition.
“I think it’s key because I’ve had the same catcher throughout high school,” said Pearce, an all-conference performer a year ago. “For a guy to come up last year in the summer and make adjustments for me as a player; that’s just huge.”
Swan is thrilled to send another player to the next level and believes Pearce will find success at Oakton. He said Pearce, a Kokomo starter, is a gamer and wants to be on the hill every day and every pitch.
“I tip my cap to him because he has been one of the hardest workers in our program,” said Swan. “He’s kind of a bulldog. He’s going to go right at people. He’s going to try to get ahead early and then try to throw off-speed pitches to be effective. He wants the ball. If his arm is able to throw, he wants to be out there and take on any and all comers. That’s the type of kid you want on your team. He may succeed or he may get knocked around, but he’ll be back the next day just as hungry and an anxious to get back at it.”
Pearce led the Kats a year ago with 35 innings pitched. He was 2-2 in 10 appearances and threw a team-high 336 strikes with a respectable earned run average of 3.20. He finished 2015 with 20 strike outs against 16 walks. He cites a two-hitter against North Central Conference-rival Marion as a highlight last season.
“I think my strength is I am not afraid to throw any pitch at any time,” said Pearce, who is a member of the KHS Student Athlete Leadership Team. “I am the dude that will throw a full-count change-up, curveball or fastball; I don’t like being obvious.”
Pearce said he intends to transfer to a four-year institution after graduating from Oakton – hopefully to continue his baseball career. He plans on studying financial advising with a minor in political science.
The Owls are the defending Skyway Collegiate Conference champions, going 12-2 in league play a year ago. They also hosted the NJCAA Region IV Sectional tournament last season. They start the 2016 season ranked in the preseason top 25 poll of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II division.