BASEBALL: Ford ’17 winding up for first season

With the Yale baseball season set to begin in just 10 days at LSU, the News sat down with right-handed pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 to talk about how he ended up at Yale and what his expectations are for the upcoming season. The coveted 6’3”, 215-pound righty from El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., has a fastball that breaks 90 mph, and he received interest from some of the top programs in college baseball during the recruiting process. Ford was recently selected as Baseball America’s preseason Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Q. First things first, what has the transition been like so far in the offseason from high school baseball to playing for Yale?

A. For me, it’s the weather, the cold. I hate it. It’s just a different dynamic for how you practice, how you play. It changes how you warm up, which I’m not used to. Also, college is very fast-paced. High school, there’s a lot of down time, you’re transitioning and people are doing their own thing. College, it’s just a lot more machine-like.

Q. You had the chance to play at programs such as Duke, Stanford and last year’s collegiate champion, UCLA. The MLB draft was certainly another option. What made you come to Yale and want to play for the Bulldogs?

 A.  A big thing for me was I wanted a place where I could play a lot — as much as possible, if I did well enough. A place like UCLA, I didn’t feel like I would even remotely be one of their guys and I kind of wanted to be. And I’ve come across some so-so coaches. These guys at Yale, they’re perfectly complementary. You’ve got Coach Stuper, who’s kind of old-school, go-with-the-flow, and then you’ve got Coach Frawley, who’s strict, new-school, bang-bang-bang, young, energetic. I felt like this was a program where I could do well, that would help make me better. And of couse, the school; it’s Yale.

Q. There are seven other players from your senior class at El Toro High School that are either playing Division I baseball or are in a Major League farm system. What’s it like going to a school now that doesn’t necessarily have a big-time focus on sports, or baseball specifically?

A. It’s definitely a big change. It’s difficult for me to understand because I come from a place where it was sports, sports, sports. That’s what the school focused on. That’s what a lot of the school spirit was based around; how well our sports teams were doing. Here, it’s tough to keep your focus sometimes when everyone else’s isn’t on it.

Q. There are power guys and there are finesse guys. How would you characterize your pitching style?

A. Power. I’m a big guy; I throw hard. That’s what I use to my advantage. I mean, I’m not wild. I can throw strikes pretty well, but if you’re a batter, I’m going to definitely beat you with my hard stuff.

Q. In high school, it seems to always be the case that the freshman are at the bottom of the totem pole. How have the seniors received you personally, as well as the other freshmen on the squad?

A. Besides the generic everyday “freshman” things, you know, paying your dues, they treat you pretty well. They treat you like you’re one of the team right away, very welcoming. They’re very helpful when you need it and they don’t abandon you, that’s for sure. They still pull seniority, but that’s expected.

Q. What will constitute a successful season this year, both personally and for the team?

A. Definitely our goal is to win an Ivy League championship. We know we can do it; we have the tools to do it. We just need to bring it together in order to accomplish that. Me, personally, I don’t really have a laid-out set of goals. I just want to be able to play as much as possible and help the guys out in any way I can. If we win, no matter what role I take, it’s a successful year for me.

Q. Baseball America recently predicted that you would win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award. What does that mean to you and does that raise your own personal expectations, or add pressure at all?

A. For me, it doesn’t change anything. I see that my role on the team is the same whatever it might be. I’ve never been one to look at preseason predictions or standings because they always change and they’re never set in stone. To me, it’s kind of like a ‘Oh, that’s cool. Thank you.’ But other than that, I still have to go out there and do what I have to do.

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