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Chase Dollander is staying true to his roots in Knoxville
Chase Dollander won the SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2022. (Credit: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel/USA TODAY Sports)

Chase Dollander is staying true to his roots in Knoxville

Editor’s note: The Colorado Rockies selected P Chase Dollander with the No. 9 pick in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft on July 9.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BVM) –If you keep up with college baseball, you know Tennessee ace Chase Dollander.

The potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, and the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year, typically spends his Friday nights on the mound at Lindsey Nelson Stadium racking up the 10 strikeouts needed for the home fans to get free queso from Moe’s.

Highlighted by his high-90s fastball and a tight slider, the college junior has become must-see TV. 

But it has been a journey to get to this point.

Coming out of Greenbrier High School in Evans, Georgia, Dollander was ranked as the No. 56 player in his recruiting class in his state by Perfect Game. Despite that, he had self-belief in his abilities early on.

The first big boost for him was making the varsity team as a sophomore.

“It kind of gave me that ‘want-to’ to get to the next level,” Dollander said. “I never once doubted myself in high school and that just kind of fueled it. It made me realize that I might have a future in this game.”

By the end of his high school career, Dollander had two collegiate offers and ultimately decided to go to Georgia Southern.

As a freshman, he pitched to a 4.04 ERA, but it was clear to anyone who watched him that there was something different about him. The Volunteers found that out when he was a member of the Eagles and pitched against them throwing 5.2 innings and only allowing three hits.

Even though he only spent one year in Statesboro, it allowed Dollander to pinpoint where he needed to be both mentally and physically.

“If you want to do what you want to do, you’re gonna have to work your butt off and things will fall into place for you. And that’s exactly what I did,” Dollander said. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of the guys, the coaches and the staff there that helped me along the way.”

Following that season, he entered the transfer portal where he eventually found his current home in Knoxville.

“I didn’t know what in the world was gonna happen,” Dollander said. “I didn’t know who was gonna call or if anybody was gonna call. I took that chance on myself and told myself if this works out, I’m gonna make the most of it.”

And he did just that by becoming the best pitcher in college baseball.

Dollander finished his sophomore year with a 2.39 ERA and struck out 108 batters in 79 innings. He also had a .175 batting average against.

That has translated over to his draft status, with various mock drafts having him as the No. 1 pick to the Pittsburgh Pirates and some evaluators stating that he is the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg.

While it gives Dollander some self-assurance that he is on the right track, it is not something he is focused on.

“Seeing that just proves all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years and years and years is starting to pay off,” Dollander said. “You have to trust the process to get results. Having that type of mindset is going to take me as far as I want to go.”

As his junior season progresses, Dollander is focused on what he can control, rather than what may happen in July.

“It’s almost impossible to not think about it,” Dollander said. “But with that being said, you have to take it with a grain of salt and know what got you to this point. You have to stay true to yourself and stay true to your roots and things will take care of themselves.”

For someone in his shoes, there may be added pressure on and off the field. But one way he combats that is with his strong faith. In fact, Dollander is more prideful of his Baptism this past September than anything he has done on the baseball field. 

“That’s one thing that has helped me so much,” Dollander said. “Whatever happens, happens. It’s all in God’s hands. Just knowing that has given me a lot of peace. Everything is already written for you, you just have to trust what God has in store for you.”

This allows Dollander to stay in the present, but he is hopeful that his path will include winning big in Omaha in the near future.