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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 1 month ago

Righty on track: Chase Haney's journey at FSU

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Windermere Prep alumnus Chase Haney’s career at FSU has had its ups and downs, but it hasn’t stopped the Winter Garden native from loving baseball.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

Life as a collegiate athlete often leads to interesting moments. 

This was one of those instances.

It’s Friday, July 31, and Chase Haney — a right-handed pitcher for the Florida State University baseball team — is chilling in his apartment in Tallahassee.

This is a big night for him, as the Windermere Prep alumnus sits and watches FSU’s virtual graduation ceremony via a virtual stream. Tonight, he’s being awarded his master’s degree in sports management, but the moment didn’t feel quite right.

“We were supposed to be playing during this graduation,” said Haney, a redshirt senior. “Not playing, it was kind of weird — I actually got to tune into the graduation, and usually I’d have a game Friday night.

“It was definitely a weird experience — I expected to probably be in the sixth inning, warming up to come in,” he said. “Instead I’m sitting on my couch, FaceTiming my family and watching graduation.”

This was Haney’s second graduation — he earned a bachelor’s degree in commercial entrepreneurship in 2019 — and the latest achievement in his long FSU career that has had its share of peaks and valleys.
 

RIDING THE ROLLER COASTER

After graduating from Windermere Prep in 2016, the Winter Garden native arrived at FSU with big hopes and dreams — which paid off almost immediately.

In his first two seasons with the Noles, Haney had racked up stats on the mound, which garnered appreciation from his teammates, as well as legendary head coach Mike Martin — who retired in 2019.

As a freshman, Haney had the most appearances on the mound (31 games) and worked with an ERA of 2.78 while going a team-best 5-0. The following year, Haney continued his dominant performance on the field and helped lead the Seminoles to the College World Series in Omaha.

Right as Haney was riding that wave of success, an injury during a summer ball game in July 2017 forced him to have Tommy John surgery — a setback that meant 16 months of rehab.

“Having a surgery like that is something that you never expect to happen to you,” Haney said. “At first, I was devastated, and then I sat down and talked to my parents about it, and I saw it as a great opportunity for me to make an impact off the field.”

After being granted a medical redshirt for his junior season, Haney came out the next year on fire. He finished with a 2-2 record and a 2.41 ERA in 31 appearances out of the bullpen in a season that saw the Seminoles make it to another College World Series.

Courtesy photo


CORONAVIRUS AND UNCERTAINTY

The Seminoles were cruising in the early part of the 2020 season — FSU posted a 12-5 record. Haney was sitting at 3-0 with a cool 1.29 ERA following a win over Illinois State on March 11.

Then, things came to a screeching halt.

“We were all just kind of sitting in the locker room — we just played Illinois State, and we had a good win against them — and that night is when everything started coming out,” Haney said of COVID-19. “The next day, we were supposed to have a game that day, and we all just met in the locker room and had a team meeting, and the whole day was just a waiting game. One hour after the other, it was bad news.”

That day — March 12 — the NCAA officially canceled the remaining winter and spring events, and it threw Haney and his teammates into a world of uncertainty.

But then came relief, in a sense, from the NCAA as the organization announced it would allow all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. The announcement forced Haney to make a decision about his future.

“At first, it didn’t really sink in, because I didn’t know what my future held — I didn’t know if I was going to have an opportunity to play professional ball, and I didn’t know if I was going to take the extra year of eligibility,” Haney said. “As I started thinking about it, and as it sunk in, it was one of those things where I don’t want to stop playing baseball until someone tells me I have to stop.”

Now Haney, who has spent his off time working at a golf course in Tallahassee, has one last year to look forward to as he continues to etch his name into FSU baseball history. At the moment, he ranks fifth in career relief appearances (107) and eighth in career pitching appearances (107).

“I’ve had a great time (being off), but I’m a baseball player through-and-through, and I’m ready to get back to work,” Haney said. 

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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