Sports

Chaney’s baseball journey continues in high school

H-F freshman Demi Chaney is no stranger to being the only girl in the dugout. (David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)

Demi Chaney is the only girl in the dugout. 

That’s not an unfamiliar feeling for the Homewood-Flossmoor freshman. She’s been playing baseball since she was 7, so donning the red and white cap for the Vikings freshman team is old hat.

“When I’m in the dugout, on this team, I’m just a baseball player. I don’t look at it as gender, or I’m a girl. I’m just a player,” Chaney said. “They treat me as if I’m not different.” 

Several of the Vikings grew up playing with Chaney, so there was no issue being accepted on the team. Coach Joe Muller said there was never any friction with the boys.

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“She gets along really well with the team. Everybody loves her. It’s just another player,” he said. “From the other teams, as well, it’s been almost nothing but good.”

Chaney isn’t there because she’s a girl, either. She belongs. She’s been a fixture at national girls tournaments for years and is a nationally-known player. She was named the MLB Develops MVP in 2022 and her list of baseball accomplishments is long.

Muller likes her footwork and defensive ability. Her bat has some pop, too, as she already put one to the warning track this season.

She was 1-2 with a double, two RBIs and two walks in the Vikings 12-1 win over Bloom on March 30. She’s moved around in the order this season, Muller said, but hit leadoff on that day. She’s H-F’s everyday shortstop. 

The double came in the third inning on a 2-0 pitch. She said she was looking to push something through the right side when she lined one in that direction.

“I was looking for my perfect pitch,” Chaney said. “I did what I was thinking, hit it exactly in the gap where I wanted to hit it.” 

It’s not the only success she’s had that early. She was 2-2 with another double in the first game of the season. 

Chaney also pitches. She threw four innings and allowed one run to get the win against Lake Central, one of the top programs in Indiana who’s varsity team is ranked in the top 15 in the midwest. 

Muller said he could envision her being on the H-F varsity roster at some point. That Lake Central game was tied 5-5 when Chaney came in. Muller said she was the pitcher he wanted on the mound in that moment.

“I think she can do whatever she wants to do. I don’t know what her plans are, but she has the ability,” he said. “I would say the biggest thing that defines her is that she’s a competitor.”

Despite Chaney’s obvious ability and commitment to the game, she said she still hears from people who suggest she switch to softball. Some people can’t accepting a girl on the baseball field.

Against Bloom, she said she heard some chirping from the other dugout. That sort of thing was intimidating years ago but Chaney’s been around the bases a few times.

“When you’re a girl on the baseball team, you don’t want to hear ‘It’s a girl. It’s a female,’” she said. “It motivates me, as you can see. I hit a double when they kept on saying that.” 

She credits her support system, including her parents and brothers, with helping keep her in the right mental place in those moments. 

The aim is to make a few more splashes soon. In July, Chaney will try out for the national women’s team. This spring, she’s hoping to make a name for herself at the high school level. 

“I just want to prove a point, in general, that this is not just a men’s game. Anybody can play at a high level,” she said. “You have to prove you can do it. You have come out here and do it to show you can come out here and really hang with the boys.” 

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