Shaun Chase

For the second time in five years, an Arizona team has advanced from the Western Regionals to the Little League World Series by rolling over the once invincible California squads. Last time, it was Chandler National. This time, Ahwatukee, which comes out of the same district as Chandler National. For anyone who has taken a small Arizona team over to play a giant California team, in any sport, the sight of the relatively tiny Ahwatukee boys taking it to the bigger and cockier Southern California and Northern California teams in the Western Regionals was a delight. The main force behind the win: Shaun Chase. Besides keeping batters at bay with his pitching, Chase did what only one other Arizona kid has ever done in regional or World Series play hit three home runs in one game. It's that kind of clutch play that has Arizona baseball rising as a force in national tournaments. (At the same time, Arizona's Connie Mack team, the Firebirds, was off winning the Connie Mack World Series.) Chase's finest moment, though, actually was a blunder. As he came around third base after his first home run, Chase tripped on the base and fell awkwardly to the ground. On national TV. But the kid got back up, smiled an embarrassed smile, took the jabs of his teammates in stride and then came back to win the game pitching and hit two more home runs. For a moment, he just looked like an awkward little kid. Which we can too easily forget, with all the hoopla around Little League these days, is exactly what every one of these players is.


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