12/23/2015 4:08 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – December 23, 2015 – The adjustment to Division-I college baseball led 2015 Andrean graduate Chase Dawson to implement a whole new swing.
It’s a swing that Dawson will continue to perfect in late May, when he swings into a season of collegiate summer ball with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
“About a month ago, I decided to make a change,” Dawson said. “I feel like my swing didn’t have the power and consistency to keep up with the speed at this level. I was OK in high school, because the average speed was 79 miles per hour. Now in college, it’s high-80s and I’ve got to be able to catch up.”
Dawson is a left-handed hitting utility man for Valparaiso, a Division-I team that plays in the Horizon League. He collected 57 hits, 37 runs and 24 RBIs while compiling a .491 batting average as a high school senior at Andrean.
During the fall, he made a strong first impression on Valpo coach and former big league pitcher Brian Schmack.
“He’s athletic and he plays hard-nosed,” Schmack said. “I love the kid, man. It’s not the prettiest, but he gets the job done. He’s the dirtiest one out there; he plays the game the right way. Whether he starts Day 1 or not is yet to be determined, but we all feel confident in him that when he goes in there, he’s going to get the job done.”
The first-year Crusader provided a harsher self-assessment of his fall season, which he described as “not too hot.”
“I was intimidated,” he said. “I wasn’t fully there I don’t think, but it’s kicking in now. I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”
Dawson is no stranger to the big stage. He helped Andrean to state championships his junior and senior seasons, in addition to kicking the game-winning field goal in the 2014 football semistate to propel the 59ers to the state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the 2015 Class 3A baseball state title game at Victory Field in Indianapolis, Dawson delivered a triple and scored the tying run in Andrean’s 2-1 victory over Jasper. When a critical situation arises, whether it’s at Valpo this spring or in the Midwest Collegiate League this summer, Dawson feel comfortable being the one at the plate.
“In big spots, someone on third base in a tied game, I want to be the guy to hit him in,” Dawson said. “That’s probably my No. 1 strength, along with the ability to score. I want to score more than everyone else. I love crossing home plate.”
Although Dawson will never forget the thrill of capturing back-to-back state titles with his high school teammates, he’s more than happy to move on to Valparaiso. He cited proximity to home and the ability to watch his younger brothers play as primary reasons for his college selection.
“I feel like the heart is there more in college,” he said. “Kids want to be there because they worked to get there. Everyone on my team wants to go hit or field more ground balls. It’s the place for me because people are starting to really work hard because they want to keep going with baseball.”