Chambersburg's Chance McClure wasn't the team's top starter. In fact, he only saw action in eight games this season. But when he did make his way to the mound, he made an impression. Find out why McClure turned heads for the Trojans in relief. Video by Lindsey Smith
Chambersburg's Chance McClure wasn't the team's top pitcher this year. In fact, he saw action in just eight games out of the Trojans' bullpen. But when he did step on the mound, boy, did he make an impression.
McClure is one of the area's only sidearm pitchers, giving him an advantage purely because his approach is so unusual.
Through 17 innings of work in relief during the high school season, McClure struck out 12 batters thanks in part to the adjustments hitters have to make when facing a sidewinder.
"Pretty much every game we played, he was very solid coming out of our bullpen," Chambersburg coach Scott Folmar said, "and so reliable, whether it was in the fourth inning or the sixth, he got it done for us."
McClure also threw a combined no-hitter for his legion team in Fayetteville, during an 8-0 win over McConnellsburg. He did not allow a hit through five innings before being relieved by Bryce Kendall.
"If Chance goes the entire game, guys start to pick it up, but it's nice to have him in relief because it's tough for guys to see it, especially in the first at-bat," said McClure's American Legion baseball manager Kyle Patterson. "He's a nice novelty guy to have. If you get yourself in a tough stretch he's the guy you want in there to close it out."
"This season in high school I started getting more outs and more movement and I started making kids look silly when I threw the ball," McClure said. "You can see the shock in their face when they're not used to kids dropping down."
It's a technique not easily mastered by pitchers who have grown up throwing overhand. McClure has been throwing the new style for more than eight months, six of which were spent getting his technique right.
"I've been pitching since I was 4 years old in tee-ball, but as a normal pitcher I figured I wasn't going to get out of the 70s, so I dropped down to get some more movement on my ball," McClure said. "It's more stress induced on your body, and you have to make sure your mechanics are proper. I had to do a lot more core work, and dropping my arm hurt a little bit at first, but now I feel pretty good about it."
On the mound, McClure nearly bends himself in half to gain momentum through his core. Also, instead of releasing the ball in an overhand motion McClure's arm is horizontal upon release, creating more movement once the pitch crosses the plate. Due to the increased movement on his ball, McClure throws a slider rather than a curveball to give his pitch "frisbee action" through the zone.
"He's not the most imposing pitcher you'll ever see, but the way he throws, he uses it to his advantage well," Patterson said. "He throws low 80s, which for a kid that's 5-foot-9 — maybe 5-foot-10 with the hair — he has a way of getting everything he has behind him. He has a knack for being able to go out there and throw whatever is natural for him and it works very well."
McClure will continue his baseball career as a pitcher at Juniata College, where he will be joined by Chambersburg teammate Austin Suders.