Chaz Frank emerges as leader during senior season for UNC baseball
Chaz Frank is a senior.
He is a 22-year-old grown man who has started nearly every game since his sophomore season for the North Carolina baseball team.
He has fielded countless fly balls and knocked nearly 200 base hits in his career.
But according to coach Mike Fox, Frank still plays the game like a little kid.
“He plays like a Little Leaguer,” Fox said. “He’s just having fun, he’s infectious. He just kind of has that kid mindset, where this is fun, this is no pressure, this is not about anything but really relishing the chance to play.”
While Frank exudes a youthful exuberance, he knows he is also expected to carry a leadership role this season as one of three seniors on the team.
And after UNC’s loss to UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday, Frank led with his play and with his words during Wednesday’s 10-2 win against UNC-Charlotte.
The center fielder went two-for-four at the plate with three RBIs, including a clutch two-run double in the second inning that gave the Tar Heels a 3-1 lead they would never give up.
But before the game, Frank played an important role in preparing his team for its second game in as many days. And after last season’s disappointing finish in the NCAA regional, he said this year’s team must respect every opponent.
“After that loss to Wilmington yesterday, we couldn’t look ahead to (N.C.) State,” Frank said of UNC’s upcoming weekend trip to Raleigh. “We had to come out and take care of business today. After a loss, no one’s happy, so I reminded the guys, with so many games during the season, you have to put things behind you pretty quick. It was nice to see our team jump out to an early lead today and have a nice performance.”
Although UNC (40-3, 17-2 ACC) has had an excellent season so far, Frank himself has faced some adversity. A hamstring problem sidelined him for five games in the middle of the year, but he said the injury made him realize what a privilege it is to play the game he loves.
“Maybe I took for granted playing everyday,” Frank said. “I really hadn’t had the taste of being on that bench with nothing to do but cheer. When I jumped back in there, I was biting at the bit to get back in there and help my team win, and I’ve been playing very well lately.”
Frank said he is now healthy and his numbers don’t seem to have suffered. He is hitting .298, is second on the team with 14 stolen bases and plays a strong centerfield.
Fellow senior Cody Stubbs said Frank has come a long way during his time in Chapel Hill, and that the Tar Heels will need his good friend’s guidance and production in order for UNC to reach its postseason goals.
“Chaz is one of the biggest leaders on this team,” Stubbs said. “He’s a spark plug on the field, and if our team isn’t quite where we need to be, he makes sure we get there. He just has fun, and he plays the game like it should be played.”
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