Brent Patterson can’t think of any legitimate gripes when it comes to Chase Mallard.
Well, maybe there’s one thing the Cullman High baseball coach would change.
“He may need a haircut,” Patterson joked about his senior right-handed pitcher. “We get that taken care of, and he’ll be fine.”
All kidding aside, there aren’t many knocks against Mallard. A bright, intelligent student in the classroom, and a hard-working, gutsy baseball player on the diamond.
What coach wouldn’t like that?
Patterson obviously does. So does UAB coach Brian Shoop.
Shoop offered Mallard a scholarship after watching the Cullman star play in a series of games held at Birmingham-Southern this past summer, joining Wallace State coach Randy Putman in the recruitment of the Bearcats’ righty.
Mallard chose UAB earlier this week, signing a national letter of intent when the early signing period began Wednesday.
“I’ve never been more sure about anything,” Mallard said. “I love the coaches (at UAB), love everything about it. It’s a hard-working program, just like we have here at Cullman.”
Mallard will join former Cullman star Blake Huddleston on the UAB pitching staff. Before signing his letter of intent, Mallard consulted with the Blazers junior.
“I actually stayed with (Huddleston) when I went on my official visit,” Mallard said. “He loves it there … said it’s a good environment and the coaches are top-notch.”
Now that Mallard has officially signed his letter of intent, the Bearcats right-hander said he’s ready to focus on his senior season.
Mallard served as Cullman’s No. 2 pitcher last season behind All-State left-hander Drew Bryson — who is heading into his freshman season at Calhoun. The duo helped lead the Bearcats to the Class 5A semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Hartselle.
This year, Mallard will most likely be the Bearcats’ ace.
Cullman’s pitching staff took a significant hit during the offseason when junior right-hander Daniel Moore had Tommy John Surgery. A few other pitchers shined when the Bearcats participated in the seven days of competition allowed by the Alabama High School Athletic Association this past summer, but a rotation won’t be determined until pitchers can officially start throwing in January.
Regardless of who the other starting pitchers will be, Mallard is excited about his senior season. He said the goal, as always, is to win a state championship. Cullman has won three state titles — and played in the championship series six times — in the past eight years.
“I’m glad this is over,” Mallard said of his recruitment. “It was kind of a burden, just sitting around waiting on phone calls.
“Now I’m ready to get my senior season started. I learned a lot last year, like the importance of throwing strikes, forcing contact and getting ground balls. I’m going to try and build off that this year. I can’t wait.”