Growing into role: Oberle’s emergence key for Eagles

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, May 11, 2019
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Throwing Heat

THROWING HEAT – Decatur junior Chase Oberle pitches during a game against Krum. Oberle leads the Eagles in innings pitched and boasts a 1.11 ERA. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

High-pressure situations are nothing new for Decatur’s Chase Oberle.

In Game 3 of the area round of the playoffs last season, the then-sophomore got the start and delivered a masterpiece, scattering one run on five hits in seven innings. The complete game gave the Eagles a 7-1 win over Princeton and propelled Decatur into the region quarterfinals.

Less than a week later, Oberle was on the mound when the Eagles’ season came to a screeching halt against Crandall.

“They got a couple of bloop hits late in the game,” Oberle recalled. “I threw a wild pitch and then they hit a triple. Then it was over.”

The way last season ended left a bitter taste in Oberle’s mouth as he prepared for the Eagles’ current campaign.

“It’s been on my mind a lot, actually,” Oberle said. “I use it as extra motivation.”

Decatur coach Tommy Maddox saw how diligently Oberle worked throughout the offseason.

“He pitched great [against Princeton], and then kind of what happened in the Crandall series, he was anxious to get back at it and prove something,” Maddox said. “It’s a combination of a lot of things, but he’s worked really hard and gotten bigger and stronger. I think it’s showed on the field.”

Oberle has emerged as Decatur’s No. 2 starter behind Oklahoma State commit Bodi Rascon this season. The lanky right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA in eight starts. He struck out 11 in a Game 1 win against Glen Rose in the bi-district round last week.

He leads the team in innings with 50.2 and has struck out 66. Opponents are hitting just .165 against him.

“He’s meant a lot,” Maddox said. “Early on through our tournament season, I told everybody he’s a guy that you trust to go out there. He’s pitching great and he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Kind of having to be that guy early in the year has helped me as the year has gone on.”

As Decatur gears up for its area series with Big Spring this weekend, Oberle will once again get the ball as the Eagles look to make another deep run.

After getting a taste of elimination games last season, Oberle said there are several things he learned.

“I think it taught me some discipline. It taught me how to keep calm and treat it like another game,” Oberle said. “I’ve really just been trying to throw strikes and give our team a chance to win.”

Maddox knows how vital Oberle has been to the team’s success this year. The Eagles are 26-5 and looking to capture their fourth straight area championship.

Oberle will be on the bump for at least one of the games this weekend, and Maddox – along with the rest of the team – has complete confidence in him.

“I have the luxury of feeling like I’ve got 1A, 1B and 1C,” Maddox said. “I don’t think the team thinks or looks any differently when [Oberle] is on the mound or when Bodi or anyone else is on the mound. He’s a guy that wants the ball in his hand.”

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