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Monday marked Opening Day for Major League Baseball, but local high school players still stared out the window waiting for spring.
“It’s great to watch the games on TV again,” Mounds View senior Chance Carnahan said. “But for us, at this point it’s not too different because we’re still indoors. We’ve still got another week or so before our season will officially begin.”
Additional practice opportunity suits Carnahan, an unheralded player who keyed Mounds View’s run to its first state championship ever last season by doing the little things well. For his efforts, Carnahan was named co-captain this season.
Leadership by example will be important for a Mustangs team that graduated players responsible for 75 percent of the innings pitched and 65 percent of the at-bats last season.
Carnahan spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about favorite championship memories, anticipation for this season and what he plans to bring to the mix.
Q: Is there a moment from last year’s championship run that you expect to always remember?
A: Oh, yeah. For me specifically, I got a huge opportunity in the section championship game where I was at the plate in the last inning of the game down one run. Coach told me to bunt and get the runner over to second base. It was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt but I ended up laying it down well enough so that I got on base. I ended up scoring the winning run of the game. That was a big role I didn’t expect to be put in.
Q: What stands out about playing at Target Field?
A: Just the whole experience was amazing. Getting to hit in the batting cages underneath. Playing with the pro baseballs. There weren’t thousands of people there or anything but it was still crazy to get up to bat and seeing the whole stadium.
Q: How did you see your championship resonate in the community?
A: Earlier this season we did a grocery bagging fundraiser at Cub Foods. While we were doing that, a lot of customers talked to us. Compared to last year, everyone knows who Mounds View baseball is. It’s awesome because baseball was never the biggest sport in our community. It’s definitely football. But people all knew we won the state championship and congratulated us.
Q: How did it feel to be named co-captain for this season?
A: It was big for me because I wasn’t one of the starting players last year. I started about half the season. So I didn’t expect to be awarded that role.
Q: What’s your leadership style?
A: Obviously I’m not a big hitter or fast thrower. I look at myself as a really hard worker who wants to make the team better. I try to do the small things well: rounding the base hard and trying to take an extra base, making sure to charge the ball. Those are the things I work on every practice.
Q: You’re listed as an infielder. Are you a utility player or is there a position you hope to play this season?
A: Last year I pretty much only played second base. This year is still uncertain but I’ve been playing a lot at third base. It was different for me but I really like it more than second base. I like having to make the longer throw. Other than turning double plays, it’s not that different.
David La Vaque