By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Chase Knott is all country boy. One of his favorite pastimes includes being “a big-time hog hunter.’’
“I’ve done that all my life,’’ he said. “I live on a ranch, so I’m either working cattle, hunting or playing baseball.’’
The Northern Oklahoma College Enid sophomore shortstop from Locust Grove doesn’t play a bad game of good ol’ country hardball either.
He is hitting .333 with four doubles and 11 RBI going into today’s 1 p.m. doubleheader at Rose State. The two teams will play a twinbill at David Allen Memorial Ballpark Saturday.
“Hitting a fastball is a lot harder than hunting a hog,’’ Knott said. “You have .4 seconds to hit a 90-mile-per-hour fastball. That’s the hardest thing to do in sports.’’
NOC Enid coach Raydon Leaton said Knott’s stats, don’t tell his value to the struggling 3-13 Jets.
“He has been our leader,’’ Leaton said. “He does everything that he’s supposed to do, and does it well. His work ethic, classroom habits and character are all leadership characteristics.’’
Knott was one of only seven players returning from last year’s team 38-23 team which was the regional runner-up to national runner-up Western Oklahoma last season.
“My role has changed a lot,’’ said Knott, who hit .323 with 11 RBI as a part-time starter as a freshman. “I’ve tried to step up and be a leader, which I could do a lot better job of.
“I try to lead more by example. I try to show the younger kids how to work hard and hopefully, they do. This team works pretty hard.’’
Knott has tried to keep the struggling Jets (3-13) on a steady course and not to panic.
“We’re getting better,’’ he said. “We’re young. We’re trying to find ourselves right now. We haven’t even started conference yet. We just need to put all phases of the game together. We make minor mistakes now which causes us to lose a game. We’ll figure it out.’’
Knott understands what his younger teammates are going through.
“As a sophomore, I know what’s going on right now,’’ he said. “I’m a lot more confident now because I know what I have to do to get the job done. I had to make adjustments when I was a freshman. I had a lot of sophomores to help me through hard times. We’re going to get there.’’
Knott moved from third to short earlier this season after an injury to sophomore Kyle Callahan. He had played shortstop his entire career before coming to NOC Enid.
“I’m a lot more comfortable there,’’ he said. “You can be a take-charge guy. The shortstop is the director of the field. He tells everybody where to go.’’
He is developing chemistry with second baseman Dyce Applegate. He has been involved in six double plays, but is disappointed with his six errors.
“I can do better on defense,’’ Knott said. “I should be the guy who shows up and shows guys how not to make an error.’’
Knott has shown his teammates how to hit in his first year in the third hole after batting No. 8 or No. 9 last season. He set the tone in the opener against Cloud County, going 3-for-4 with two doubles.
“The key is hitting it where they’re not,’’ Knott said. “I’m more of a contact hitter than anything else. Baseball is all about confidence. If you don’t have confidence, you’re not going to do anything. You have to relax, be confident and know you can hit the ball.’’
Knott is known for his discipline at the plate. He leads the team with eight walks and has been hit by a pitch four times.
“You just want to get on base,’’ he said. “I have more discipline this year.I know the pitches to hit.’’
As the No. 3 hitter, he is seeing more curves and pitchers trying to hit their spots more. He benefits from having Korbin Polston (.391, 14 RBI) hitting behind him.
“They have to pitch to me,’’ Knott said with a smile.
Knott played in the O’Brien wood bat league last summer in Tulsa, but prefers aluminum bats.
“Wood bats break pretty easy,’’ he said.
Knott was drawn to NOC Enid “by the family atmosphere.’’ He signed with the Jets after participating in the Mid-America Baseball Showcase at David Allen.
“It’s a small enough school where everybody knows everybody else,’’ he said. “Everybody supports the baseball team. Enid is a good baseball town. I like the way coach Leaton coaches. He’s a family style coach.’’
He credits Leaton for developing his discipline as a hitter.
Knott had no individual goals this season. He was more motivated by the Jets being the regional runner-up a year ago.
“We came so close (to the playoffs),’’ Knott said. “That made us work harder this year. My only concern is us winning as a team. I’ll help myself in the long run if the team starts winning.’’
The Jets will pitch Zach Postoak in Game 1 today and Hayden James in Game 2. Austin Hannon and Austin Hilton are scheduled to pitch Saturday.
NOC Enid will try to bounce back from Monday’s 13-2 loss at Cowley today when the Jets go to Rose State for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
The Jets will host the Raiders in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
Former Enid High star Joe Black is hitting at a .364 clip for Rose State (8-9) with a team-high 12 RBI.
It will be a homecoming for Midwest City Carl Albert products Polston and A.J. Wilson of the Jets.