6:00: Morning News

Promising freshman season for Hedgesville’s Chase DeLauter at JMU cut short

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — 2019 West Virginia co-player of the year Chase DeLauter made a seamless transition to Division 1 baseball, becoming an every game starter in his freshman season at James Madison University.

DeLauter was one of four players to start all sixteen games for the Dukes prior to the season being canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.

“I played pretty well in the fall so I was told at the end of the fall that I was going to play somewhere in the outfield. I played pretty well in the preseason and I kind of knew going into it that I was going to be starting.”

DeLauter batted .606 in his senior season at Hedgesville, leading the Eagles to the Class AAA Region II title and a spot in the state semifinals.

With a starting spot at JMU secured on opening day, DeLauter hit a team-best .382 with fourteen RBI in the leadoff spot. He opened the year on a nine-game hit streak and reached base safely in fifteen games. DeLauter’s 26 hits were tied for 35th in the NCAA rankings and he was also 34th in doubles (7). He was also successful on seven of eight stolen base attempts.

“I just had to adjust to the new pace of pitching. In high school, we really didn’t face anybody with a lot of velo. I had to get used to pitchers not just throwing it down the middle. Many pitchers don’t miss their spots.

“After the first weekend at North Carolina State, I had a rough first game and came back and in the second and third games and felt pretty comfortable. After that it just kind of fell into place.”

Chase DeLauter led Hedgesville to the 2019 Class AAA state semifinals.

DeLauter was also a regular starter in the James Madison pitching rotation. In four starts, he went 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA.

“They recruited me as a pitcher only. I wasn’t even supposed to hit. In my senior year (at Hedgesville) they saw me hit a little bit and they told me I could play both potentially. So the pitching was always the biggest thing for me.

“In the first couple weekends, my mechanics were off and I was trying to overthrow. The biggest thing is you can’t really miss your spots now. In high school I could get away with a couple missed spots and bad pitches. Here you really can’t get away with it.”

James Madison was swept in their opening weekend series at No. 16 North Carolina State. The Dukes would then run off ten wins in their next thirteen games.

“We just realized we could hang with pretty much any team. With our lineup, if we were on there’s nobody that could beat us. We hit well and played good defense.”

On March 11, the Dukes posted a quality non-conference win at Maryland, 4-2. Two days later, the NCAA announced that all spring sports championships were canceled.

“It was said at Maryland that they were potentially going to shut down school so we went back to practice the next day. Then they told us the games were suspended until further notice. At the end of that practice they told us we had to go home until April 5. Then they told us the season was canceled.”

Back home in West Virginia, DeLauter is now gearing up for summer baseball. He will compete in the Valley League for the Strasburg Express, which is based in Virginia.

“I am still in a throwing program. I go to the high school field to hit and throw and keep my arm in shape. I keep swinging for summer ball eventually.

“Going back next year I will know what to expect. I will be able to adjust to pitches that got me out.”

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