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Roll, Storm: The baseball team finishes in fifth place

Brown, Shaffer, Emerson earn first-team honors

 

Chemeketa baseball player, Jake Branham

Chemeketa baseball player, Jake Branham

By Jake Branham

A shaky season still allowed three sophomores to shine this baseball season.

Three Storm players were named to the first-team NWAACC South despite finishing at 12-18 in league play.

Chemeketa closed out its 2014 season finishing in fifth place overall in the division, losing five of the last six games and any hopes of postseason play in the NWAACC Tournament.

Even though the Storm struggled at times in putting together wins as a team, they still had three players who were recognized as all-NWAACC South first-team selections: Martin Brown, Brenden Shaffer, and Alex Emerson.

Brown, a starting pitchers, led the team in innings pitched and was second with an ERA of 1.76, which also was good enough for the third-best stat in the league and 15th overall in the entire NWAACC.

He also threw a no-hitter in his first start of the season.

“When I first heard I was named to the first-team, I couldn’t believe I did it. I remember telling myself that this was an awesome accomplishment and just remembering all of the work that led me to that point,” Brown said.

“Time was a big sacrifice. I set goals and priorities at the beginning, back in the fall, and that meant going to practice early or leaving late to get the extra work in. We had 6 a.m. team workouts constantly, and we worked out two to four times a week for eight months. It took a lot of time and devotion.”

Even though the team had its struggles, Brown said he wouldn’t change one bit of the season.

“I think we played hard this year and left everything out on the field,” he said. “Yeah, we didn’t finish where we would have liked, but it was an awesome experience playing alongside a great group of guys. I sure missed our sophomores that couldn’t play due to injuries. I mean, that alone hurt our starting lineup.”

Brown’s favorite moment was when he threw the no-hitter.

“It was my first start of the season, and I was so locked in and focused that I had no clue it was a perfect game through 6 innings,” he said. “But it was a fun game, and I was just getting outs and watching my defense make spectacular plays behind me.

“I can’t give enough credit to my teammates and coaches. I could not have achieved anything this season without any of them.”

Also named to the first-team was third-baseman Brenden Shaffer.

Shaffer led the team in batting average, hits, runs scored, RBIs, doubles, and home runs on the season.

Shaffer was fourth in the division with a .346 average. He also finished second in the division and ninth in the entire NWAACC with 54 hits.

“When I heard about being awarded, I was excited and especially honored that I could accomplish getting first-team for two straight seasons. Then I heard about the gold-glove team, and I was even more humbled. I am extremely blessed to receive both of these awards,” he said.

“It was a lot of lifting and work … during the off season. And once games came around, I just knew that I needed to play without worrying about anything besides competing and having as much fun as possible. Without these things, I could not have performed as well as I did.”

Shaffer had his own take on the obstacles that the team faced this season.

“I just feel like we played Storm baseball when we won games by being gritty and never giving in,” he said. “But there was a lot of disappointment when we fell short of the postseason and the NWAACC tournament. We all knew we could do it, but not everyone believed in themselves or each other enough as a team overall to accomplish our goals.

“There was a part of the season where we had a few come-from-behind wins when our backs were against the wall. We hit well, and we proved to teams that we were not going to be an easy team to beat because we were resilient then. But we just couldn’t keep that consistent, competitive attitude, and that was the difference on the majority of our games.”

Joining Brown and Shaffer on the first-team was Alex Emerson.

Emerson was a starting pitcher who also played center field when not pitching. He was named to the gold-glove team in the outfield for the NWAACC South.

He was tied-for first on the team in stolen bases and was second in innings pitched and strikeouts while on the mound.

“At first, when I heard coach announce I made the first-team, I was just really surprised. I didn’t think I had a good enough season to get awarded anything,” he said.

“I had a rocky patch during the middle part of the season, but I knew that if I kept working the process and sticking to my plan that things would eventually work to my benefit.

“I sacrificed time to stay after practice on my own to work on my swing and did a lot of tee work, and it helped bring my average up a lot.

“I also have to thank Hector Ferrer for sacrificing his time to hit me pop flies and grounders. It gave me more reps reading hops in our outfield and the ball in the air. I couldn’t have made that adjustment defensively without him.”

Despite the disappointing team finish, Emerson remained positive on his evaluation of the season.

“We had a great group of guys who were all bought into the program,” he said. “And whether or not it showed on the field this year, if we continue to do so and the freshman carry it over next season, it will pay off in the future,” he said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching staff. They helped me grow throughout my time at Chemeketa, not only as a ball player but also as a person in general. It was a great two-year span.”

Brown and Shaffer remain unsigned and uncommitted heading into the summer.

Shaffer is weighing options between the University of Portland and Western Oregon University, where Emerson will continue next year on a baseball scholarship for pitching and playing in the outfield as a two-way-guy.

Roll, Storm.

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