If it’s a big game, you can bet that Grain Valley High School baseball coach Brian Driskell is going to put the ball in the hands of his ace, Chaise McCord.
When the Eagles whitewashed Missouri River Valley Conference West opponent Odessa 10-0 Tuesday, McCord threw two-hit ball for five scoreless innings in the five-inning mercy rule win. He improved to 7-2, had 10 strikeouts and lowered his microscopic earned run average to 1.32.
The win clinched at least a tie for the conference crown with a 7-1 mark. Any combination of a Grain Valley win or Harrisonville loss gives the 17-4 Eagles the outright title.
And McCord is no one-year wonder – over the past two seasons, the lanky right-hander is 13-4 with a 1.32 ERA, including a 6-2 mark with an 0.80 ERA and one no-hitter in an all-district, first-team Examiner All-Area campaign as a junior.
“When you give the ball to Chaise, you know what you’re going to get,” Driskell said following the victory over Odessa. “He’s a gamer. He wants the ball in the big games and he has done a great job for us the past two seasons.
Driskell then quipped, “He has the same approach to the game I had back when I pitched, except he’s bigger and has a lot more talent.”
Baseball has always been McCord’s game.
“I think I started playing before I could even walk,” joked McCord, who has signed to pitch for State Fair Community College in Sedalia.
“I played other sports, but I started concentrating on baseball because I thought it could help me get to college and it was my favorite sport. Anyone who says it’s slow or boring just doesn’t understand it. There are a lot of things going on out there – especially on the mound.
“As a pitcher, I can dictate the pace of the game. I’m in the middle of everything, and I love that. I just love to play. When we’re playing a game after school, I know it’s going to be a good day.”
And he’s quick to add that any day spent with his Eagles teammates is a good day.
“The best thing about this season is sharing it with so many of my best friends,” McCord said. “Back when we were freshmen, we were talking about how good we were going to be when we were seniors, and now – it’s hard to believe – we are seniors.
“It went by so fast, I can’t believe this is it, our senior year, and that’s a big reason why we have to make the most of it.”
When McCord and his senior teammates first arrived at the high school, they looked on the Hall of Fame wall outside of the commons area and saw the photos of former coach Mark Lyford’s two Hall of Fame squads that reached the state final four.
“Coach Lyford established a real legacy here and we want to be a part of a new legacy with Coach Driskell,” McCord said. “Legacy means a lot to me and the other guys on the team. We’ve had some big wins this year and hope to get a lot more of them.”