For Chase McQuagge, there was at least one good thing that came out of being quarantined.
The Hillgrove infielder enjoyed a one-on-one workout with Atlanta Braves star and former Marietta High School standout Dansby Swanson. That meeting was arranged through Braves bench coach Walt Weiss, whose son, Brock, plays on McQuagge’s travel team.
During his time with Swanson, McQuagge learned what it was like to be a professional baseball player on and off the field. He also picked up on a few fielding techniques.
“He’s a great mentor,” McQuagge said of Swanson. “He was teaching me stuff that I haven’t learned before as a player. You can tell how humble (major leaguers) are and how they go about things differently than us high schoolers.”
While McQuagge valued his time with Swanson, not being able to finish his senior season at Hillgrove was disheartening. He was inconsistent to begin the season, but what ended up the most important was helping the team come together following a sluggish start.
After the Hawks (9-5) lost five of their first eight games to begin the year, they embarked on a six-game winning streak, highlighted by a three-game sweep over Kennesaw Mountain to start Region 3AAAAAAA competition. He played a valuable role at first base and third base, as well as a fill-in as a relief pitcher.
“Chase’s love for Hillgrove baseball was contagious,” Hawks coach David Richardson said. “He wanted to see his teammates succeed as much, if not more so, than himself. He displayed such a positive attitude each and every day.”
Hillgrove appeared to be turning a corner when the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and spring sports to be canceled.
“Our goal was to be the best team that we could be,” McQuagge said. “We were starting to find our groove, and it was tough to see it end. Your senior season is supposed to be the most fun year you ever had. To see it go away, it’s heartbreaking.”
McQuagge had no difficulty keeping himself sharp after the season came to a halt. With his younger sister, Morgan, a softball player for Hillgrove, they had all the necessary equipment, such as pitching nets and batting tees, to stay fresh in case the season would continue.
But it was not meant to be.
Having signed with Young Harris College, McQuagge has no choice but to put high school behind and focus on his next chapter of his baseball career. He said that initially, Young Harris was not on his radar. He had visited the college last year but did not get immediate feedback.
A couple of months ago, he said a Young Harris coach texted him, telling him there would be a spot on the roster.
“They gave me an offer I couldn’t resist,” McQuagge said. “I’m ready to enjoy the moment they are giving me.”