Why should Demi Chaney have to choose between being a pitcher or a hitter? MLB star Shohei Ohtani doesn't.
Chaney, a 12-year-old Homewood resident, led her Chicago Scouts team to the Baseball For All National championship last month in Maryland, dominating on the mound and in the batter’s box.
At the plate, she had seven hits in 13 at bats and stole 11 bases. The biggest came in the bottom of the seventh inning of the semifinal with the Arizona Peaches.
Demi was down to her last strike, facing a pitcher who’d struck her out twice before. The game was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on third base.
“Our scorekeeper turned to me and said ‘You might want to tape this be cause Demi’s getting ready to win this game for us,” said Fred Chaney, Demi's father and the coach.
Luckily, Fred got out his phone quick enough to get the video. Demi lined a high fastball to the outfield to walk the game off and give the Scouts a 4-3 win.
Aside from the semifinal and a 7-6 win over the DC Force, the Scouts cruised through the tournament. They won all four games in pool play and beat the San Diego Mustangs 7-0 in the championship game.
Demi pitched the opening game and the championship. She allowed only one earned run in 11 and two-thirds innings, striking out 20.
It was the only all-girls tournament Demi played in this summer. She normally plays against the boys, against whom she’s gained a reputation.
“Baseball is baseball. A ground ball is a ground ball,” Fred said. “Footwork is footwork. It’s not based on gender. It’s based on playing the game. Understanding and knowing the game, that doesn’t change. That’s the philosophy I try to push to all my players, boys or girls.”
Before a game against the powerhouse team of Jackie Robinson West, the boys were worried about who would pitch. They asked Scouts coaches — including Fred — and players.
“They said that they were going to crack my stuff,” Demi said. “When I struck them out, it felt so good. They were mad, very mad.”
She shut them down for three innings and her team won 11-6.
Later in that tournament at the University of Illinois Chicago, Demi clobbered what she said was probably the hardest ball she’s ever hit. It bounced off the college-depth fence on one hop.
“I could feel off the bat that it was definitely going over the (outfielder’s) head,” she said.
Tournament season is over for now. The Chaneys will take a week or so off before getting right back into training. After all, Demi’s only a few years away from her high school baseball career.
“I want to keep playing 'til I feel like I can’t play anymore,” she said.