All-Calhoun County Class 4A-6A Player of the Year: Oxford’s Chase used slap hit to put up big numbers
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Jul 04, 2013 | 3349 views |  0 comments | 73 73 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oxford’s Stewart Gail Chase led the Lady Yellow Jackets with a .441 batting average in 2013. (Photo by Courtney Davies)
Oxford’s Stewart Gail Chase led the Lady Yellow Jackets with a .441 batting average in 2013. (Photo by Courtney Davies)
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OXFORD — Although being a successful slap hitter comes with training of the technique, Oxford center fielder Stewart Gail Chase slipped into the role naturally as a seventh-grader.

During the past five seasons, Chase developed her natural talent into being The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 4A-6A softball player of the year.

“I learned it, but I’m a natural lefty so it just came natural when I started doing it,” said Chase, a senior. “My dad always taught me to watch the ball, so that’s what I’ve always done. I’d go to hitting lessons every week.”

Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin introduced the style of hitting to Chase, knowing she already had the advantage of being left-handed. McKibbin has watched Chase develop over the past five seasons, saying Chase can slap, bunt and hit for power. In addition, she’s an asset in the outfield, too, getting great jumps on the ball.

“She came in this year as a senior and came to practice working hard every day and always had a positive attitude and was always encouraging,” McKibbin said. “We had a good team, but we’ve lost a lot of players the past few years.

“But when the pressure’s on, like when we played Clay-Chalkville for the area, she was huge. Same thing with the way she played in county. She was huge.”

Chase’s statistics back up McKibbin’s compliments.

Chase led the Lady Yellow Jackets with a .441 batting average. She also had a team-high 67 hits, 25 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

“I went through a slump my junior year, but last summer I played for Excel and I told myself I wasn’t going to have a bad year and I wouldn’t let my junior year get me down,” Chase said. “And it didn’t.”

Chase brought leadership to the team as a junior, and in her third year starting, her senior season was no different.

“This year I figured since it was my senior year I should go out with a bang,” she said. “It was my time to take the team on my back and do my best and expect the best from everyone else, too. That’s what we did.”

With Chase playing a large role on and off the field, Oxford won its third straight regular-season Class 6A, Area 13 championship. The Lady Yellow Jackets also won the area tournament and advanced to the North Central Regional.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to be with my senior year,” Chase said. “We overcame more obstacles than I can count and even though we were a young team, we still exceeded all expectations.”

After a successful tenure at Oxford, Chase will play for Southern Union in the fall. She said she just wants to do her best and play her game.

“I think she’ll step right in and contribute to the program,” McKibbin said. “She’s played a lot of travel ball and she’ll play this summer, and since we play a lot of top competition that isn’t much different from junior colleges, I think she’ll fit right in.”

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.
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