Walling has been integral in utility role
You know the saying that the statistics don’t show what a player has done for a team?
If there’s a player who ever typified that saying, it’s Douglas High grad Chad Walling.
One look at Walling’s stats, and one would think that the 2005 Sierra League Player of the Year hasn’t contributed much to the Western Nevada Community College baseball program. But without Walling, the rest of WNCC’s players could be in the middle of their offseason plans instead of preparing for the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association World Series.
WNCC will open play in the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Delgado Community College of New Orleans in Grand Junction, Colo. If the Wildcats go on to complete their improbable run and win the whole thing, there’s a good chance that Walling will be in the middle of it, contributing somehow.
It may be manufacturing a key run, like he did late in the first game of the regional championship series at Community College of Southern Nevada. It may be going from second to third on a shallow flyball to left centerfield as he has done once this season.
When Walling goes in as a pinch runner at first, it’s virtual lock that somehow, someway he’ll end up at third with less than two outs, giving WNCC a chance to score.
Walling has used his speed to become an outstanding baserunner and has become the total utility player for the Wildcats. He can play any position.
Walling doesn’t play much, but his role is critical. In tight games, he normally comes in as a pinch runner to manufacture a run any way he can and stays in the game for defense. He was even used as a pitcher last year and one can see him being used as a bullpen catcher during practice.
“I’ve been kind of the go-to guy whether it be running or out in the field. I haven’t started a lot of games but I’ve come out of a lot of games,” said Walling, referring to how he finishes games.
“In a big situation when they need to get something done, I go in there and give it everything I got. If that’s going to be my role I’ll do the best job I can every time. I take pride in that.”
There’s another cliche that if Walling had gone to most any other school, he would have been a starter. But for Walling, the chance to play in the World Series has made his time at WNCC worth it. He called his time at WNCC “a great experience. It’s just been an absolute blast to be a part of.”
“That’s been our goal ever since August of my freshmen year to get there,” said Walling about making the World Series. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
Walling credited WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore and the coaching staff. “To put together a great program, to be in our second year in the league and to go to the College World Series, it’s pretty spectacular.
“I don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. It’s a story you tell your grandkids.”
Walling would like to go on and play possibly for a Division II school. “If there’s a place to play I know they can find it for me,” said Walling about the coaching staff.
But Walling said his education takes priority. “As of now I’m looking for a great place to get a quality education, to be an engineer.”
He added he hopes to “get blessed enough to have the option to keep playing. I’ve still got a big decision to make to where I can go to get the best education and whatever’s going to be best in the long run.”
Walling said one of the team’s strengths has been its togetherness. “It’s got us through a lot of tough times,” he said.
It’s been a while since Walling has gotten to hit, but that may be more due to bad luck than anything else. Over the past two years, it would be hard to find anyone who has hit the ball harder, but right at people, than Walling.
With the depth of WNCC’s pitching staff, WNCC also hasn’t had to use Walling on the mound this year as it did last year.
“I just came in and threw the ball over the plate,” said Walling, recalling his pitching experience from last year. “I just hoped it didn’t get hit too hard.”