Sports

"Shaffer analyzes future without baseballFocus turns to studying, career. "

"Sometime later this month, BHS senior Chris Shaffer will throw his final pitch in a Spartan baseball uniform. It might also mark his final mound appearance in organized baseball, as he's discussed the college baseball experience with last year's standout pitchers Jamie Hawkins and Thomas Henshaw.They're doing a lot more than they ever did here, he says. They spend a lot of time in the weight room and conditioning. It's really a big step up. And Taylor Childress (BHS '99) pitched a year or two for Vanderbilt, then he gave it up.So it might be time to focus on studying and my career, says Shaffer. I want to finish this season strong and have fun playing.Abandoning baseball would be a bittersweet moment, marking the end of a 10-year career in the sport, which he began with T-ball as a 7-year-old. He followed the traditional upward progression: minors, three years in majors, then two more years in Babe Ruth. He played JV ball as a freshman at BHS, and made a minor role switch as he moved up to varsity as a sophomore. Prior to that, he'd always been a starting pitcher. But with the team having several outstanding arms, he became its closer, recording a school-record eight saves. Last year was more of the same, as he started one game and logged most of his innings in relief.This year, he's become the team's No. 1 guy.I like starting more, he says. That way I get to pitch more. Pitching is my passion.His position on the top rung of the ladder also means that he pitches against Spartan opponents' top guns, and against North Kitsap and Port Angeles he faced two hard-throwing major-league prospects.Shaffer held his own with them, dropping a pair of 1-0 losses caused by defensive lapses. If there are scouts in the stands, I get more psyched myself, he says. I want to show them there's something here too. I pitch like Greg Maddux (of the Atlanta Braves), he adds. I like to think I can throw any pitch, any time. I'm not going to blow guys away. I've been clocked in the mid-80s, and good high school hitters can get around on that.Shaffer compensates for what he considers his relative lack of overpowering stuff with good control and careful analysis.And his thought processes go beyond what happens between the foul lines.He notes that baseball is a team game but an individual sport. It's pitcher against batter. Your team can't help you out when you're on the mound or at the plate.With an analytical mind like this, it's not surprising that computers are his other passion.When I'm not playing baseball, I'm on the computer, he says. He's particularly interested in computer hardware and internal systems. I like to figure out how they're built, he says, how semi-conductors, switches, jumpers, all the components, fit together. It's amazing how bits of metal and silicon come together. He also has his A-plus certification, which means that theoretically he could skip college and land a job somewhere doing tech support.No chance. I want to see what else there is, he says, and go through the whole college experience.I've also done video editing for home movies and I used to want to be an actor or director. For a while I was looking at a film school in Vancouver and the Seattle Art Institute.More recently, that creative impulse has taken another direction. Now I have another hobby, he says. I do computer animation. There's a lot of new stuff on the web.So it's no wonder that Shaffer is willing to forego playing college baseball to study something like computer engineering, most likely at the UW.But I think I'll miss baseball, he says. It's been the biggest part of my life for so long. It's what everybody knows me for.So far. With so many interests in the always-volatile computer field, it's probably not stretching a point too far to think that down the road the name Chris Shaffer might be known for something else.Like maybe an interactive 3D animated computer baseball game. Featuring a pitcher who can throw any pitch, any time. "

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