Los Angeles Preps: Valley Christian
April, 19, 2012
By Blair Angulo | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Stephen Dachman, Courtesy of GazettesSports.comChase DeJong enjoys a challenge, which explains why he left a small private school for a large public school.
LONG BEACH -- Chase DeJong wanted to challenge himself.
In a time when transfers from public to private schools are common, the senior pitcher decided to go the other way, leaving the comforts of Valley Christian in Cerritos for Long Beach Wilson at the end of ninth grade. He could stay and dominate at Valley Christian, where he knew the first and last names of about 600 students, but that would have been easy. No, like any great competitor, DeJong wanted to challenge himself.
It was difficult to leave because he had attended Valley Christian since preschool. His two older brothers had gone there as well. It was home for him, all he ever knew.
"I knew if I wanted to experience a big public school and play against top-level competition, I needed to test myself," says DeJong, the 12th-ranked player in the state according to ESPN.
DeJong adjusted well to the move and, a year later, burst onto the scene with a 10-2 record and 1.00 ERA as a junior. In 50 innings pitched this season the 6-foot-5 right-hander has given up nine earned runs and struck out 71 batters.
"His biggest transition was getting used to the large number of personality types and religious beliefs," says Bruins head coach Andy Hall, whose team is 14-6 with all six losses coming by one run. "He's lived a sheltered life. Being exposed to this has helped him mature and grow."
DeJong throws an unmistakeable low-90s fastball and mixes in what Hall describes as a "vicious" curveball. He received his first recruiting letter as an eighth grader and, eventually, was pursued by nearly every major college program before settling on local USC. DeJong broke the news to Trojans head coach Frank Cruz with a late-night phone call last August.
"It was 11:45 at night," DeJong says. "I woke him up."
Not that Cruz complained or anything.
DeJong has remained humble through the added attention and higher profile. Hall says he receives baseball cards of DeJong from autograph seekers in his school mailbox. The 18-year-old signs them and sends them back.