As the pitcher waits patiently for the catcher’s call, he focuses himself on the pitch while he throws the last pitch of the game. As the team runs out, he sends his glove straight into the air as they pile themselves on top of him.
Sophomore Chris Haddeland was awarded with Most Outstanding Player at the Division III West Regional Baseball Tournament.
“I think of it as a team award,” Haddeland said. “They helped me earn those two wins that we needed.”
Since second grade, he knew that he wanted to be a pitcher after spending the previous two years playing in the McMinnville Parks and Recreation League.
“I wanted to be a pitcher because they get to touch the ball the most, and the game is essentially in their hands,” Haddeland said.
While playing at McMinnville High School, he earned first team all-state honors and played in the all-star series.
Last season, Haddeland was not in the starting rotation, with only a select few opportunities to spot start. He now has the first spot in each series.
“It’s pretty neat to know when you are going to throw exactly,” Haddeland said. “The circumstances are different for regional and national tournaments, meaning I can throw at any point.”
Over the course of the tournament, Haddeland made one start and had two relief appearances. He pitched 16 scoreless innings, had 12 strikeouts and no walks.
Spending a lot time on the mound puts a lot of stress on a pitcher’s arm and shoulder. Haddeland had to spend a lot of time after games icing them to get ready for his next appearance on the mound. Athletic trainer Greg Hill stood as Haddeland’s go-to person following playing in the tournament.
“He did a good job this weekend icing us up and keeping us healthy,” Haddeland said.
His pitching choices include a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up.
“I use all of them when I am in a jam, especially my breaking ball,” Haddeland said.
This was Haddeland’s first time at the regional tournament and it made him more eager to participate in the post-season festivities.
“Going to the regional tournament was one of our main goals,” Haddeland said. “No one score more than four runs besides Linfield against Pomona-Pitzer. It was pretty exciting.”
Haddeland also was selected as Northwest Conference’s Pitcher of the Year and first team all-conference.
He has the most individual wins in the division and has the ninth lowest earned run average. Haddeland’s ERA is currently .99 with a 13-1 record. Throughout the season, he has pitched seven complete games for the Wildcats, all of which were victories.
Sitting in the stands during a majority of the series, including the regional tournament, are Haddeland’s parents.
“They have come to every series of mine,” Haddeland said. “It’s great to have my parents at games.”
Haddeland will next be pitching at the Division III World Series May 24-28 in Appleton, Wis.
“I am looking forward to us playing in the national tournament,” Haddeland said. “We are going to be competing against a lot of teams with depth. It’s going to be interesting to compare ourselves to top teams in the nation.”
Ivanna Tucker can be reached at