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June 7, 2014

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Jeff ace Dale has had incredible senior campaign

Louisville recruit leads Devils into today’s Evansville Regional

JEFFERSONVILLE — Derek Ellis has coached Chandler Dale since he was a 12-year-old at Jeff/GCC Little League.

Dale’s arrival from Graceland Little League helped propel Ellis and GRC into the Little League World Series. Now Dale is helped Ellis and the Jeffersonville Red Devils make a run through the IHSAA baseball tournament.

Few know Dale better than Ellis does and the coach’s praise for his pitching ace couldn’t be more glowing.

“Chandler is a unique individual,” Ellis said. “He’s extremely intelligent, extremely passionate about everything he does and, when he does something, he gives it his all. He makes me want to be a better coach. He makes his teammates want to be better players. He leads by example and he’s vocal. You can’t ask for much more of a leader than that. He’s a phenomenal kid.”

Dale has had a outstanding senior years on the mound and at the plate — and he’s been at his best of late.

He pitched the Red Devils to a 4-0 victory over Jennings County then pitched them into the regional with a four-hitter against New Albany’s strong lineup in a 7-1 victory.

“He’s stepped up and has done a fantastic job,” Ellis said. “He’s the kind of kid who, when you put him out there, you know he’s going to pitch well.”

Dale can pitch in three of Jeff’s final four games that it would need to win a state championship. It starts today with an 11 a.m. regional semifinal against 11-17 Whiteland. With a win, the Red Devils would face either No. 6 Columbus North (23-5) or Castle (22-8) in the 8 p.m. regional championship game for a second straight semistate berth.

“In every game that Chandler’s pitched, we’ve been in it,” Ellis said. “He’s 6-4 but he could easily be 10-0. I feel pretty confident that if we can get through the regional and have him in the semistate and a state game, I feel pretty good with that.”

“I think it’s a definite confidence booster knowing that we have a dominant pitcher in three of our last four games,” senior teammate Drew Ellis said. “We have a great pitching staff and whoever’s on the mound is going to compete for us. We’re going to grind it out and do everything we can to get a win.”

Dale’s ERA is 1.90 in 2014. He took four losses early when the Devil offense wasn’t producing for him. Through it all, he hasn’t given up more than four runs in an outing this season and has 79 strikeouts to 16 walks in 62 innings.

“It was frustrating,” Dale said said of the early losses. “In my frustration, I was seeking some wisdom and came across a quote that said, ‘Success is not a number, it’s faithful labor.’ Hearing that made me realize that it’s the postseason that’s important. [Regular-season] records don’t matter. We’ve been faithful and worked hard through everything and now we’re in the regional.”

“All year, he’s been dominant on the mound,” Drew Ellis said. “Early in the season we couldn’t get him any run support. He still pitched as good as anybody ever has at Jeff High. I think it’s phenomenal the way he handled himself.”

In Monday’s championship game win over New Albany, the Red Devil offense showed Dale a ton of love. It gave him four runs in the first two innings, including a Drew Ellis home run to open the Devils’ half of the first inning. The Jeff ace did the rest with 10 strikeouts.

“I’ve been pretty consistent through the season,” Dale said. “Our hitters have been coming to play. I said earlier on that if we hit like this, there’s nobody in the state who can beat us.”

Dale has also produced at the plate. He’s batting .400 after an incredible week in which he went 19 for 25 with 13 RBIs in the middle of May.

“I was just seeing the ball so well and stroking it,” Dale said. “It felt good. I knew going up to the plate I was going to get a hit. I’m still pretty confident at the plate and hopefully that continues.”

Dale was expected to sign with Liberty University in Virginia. However, when the Red Devils faced St. X on April 24, the Louisville coach staff was in attendance to watch future Cardinal Drew Ellis. They liked what they saw in Dale’s performance and offered him a spot on their 2015 roster. He accepted.

“In the middle of the season, they started talking to me,” Dale said. “I got to go on a visit and now I’m going to Louisville. I’m pumped. I always dreamed of playing college baseball, and to get to go to Louisville is a dream come true. It’s going to be a blast.”

No one was happier than the Ellises that Dale decided to attend Louisville.

“You don’t see many arms like his in high school,” Coach Ellis said. “I’m ecstatic that he’s going to Louisville and he’s going to continue playing with Drew.”

“I’m glad that he’s made that decision,” Drew Ellis added. “It’s going to be great having one of my best friends along side of me.”

Dale helped Jeff/GRC reach two Little League World Series. He could be on the track to help Jeffersonville High School win a state championship.

So how would a state title compare?

“It would be right up there,” he said. “For four years of high school, it’s been my goal to win a state championship. To go out on that would be awesome. Obviously, it hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t really compare it to a Little League World Series. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to tell you.”

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