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Power at the plate: Lamar-bound Chase Kemp has thing for home runs

DISTRICT 22-5A BASEBALL STANDINGS

1. Port Neches-Groves, 12-0

2. Lumberton, 9-3*

3. Livingston, 9-3

4. Nederland, 7-5*

5. Vidor, 7-5

*—Owns tiebreaker because of series sweeps

•••

Tonight’s local games

• Nederland at PA Memorial, 7 p.m.

• Port Neches-Groves at Livingston, 7 p.m.

NEDERLAND — Chase Kemp was asked about his home run count this season.

“Usually when I’m up in the count, it’s one strike and a couple of balls,” the senior first baseman for Nederland said. “When I’m up in the count, I’m just looking for a fat pitch to get a hold of it.”

He was really asked how many home runs he’s launched the last two seasons. His seven dingers this season are six more than last year.

Through 27 games, seven homers is a nice count for someone who says he’s always been a power hitter.

“I just think seeing the ball well and being stronger this year as a senior has helped me out,” he said. “Seeing the ball well and getting a good feel for the bat has helped me.”

Kemp is believed to own the most home runs among District 22-5A players this season. Overall, he’s batting .423 (33 for 78) with two triples (both in district play), eight doubles and 21 RBI this season. He has a .471 hitting clip (16 for 34) in the district, too.

“I only got to coach him for two years, but he’s been a special player,” second-year Nederland head coach Bryan Spell said. “Outstanding defender.”

Five of Kemp’s homers came in a three-day tournament at Clear Falls earlier this season. He homered three times in two games that Friday and once each on Thursday and Saturday.

In a March 31 game at Port Neches-Groves, Kemp came up to bat with runners on first and second and pounded a three-run homer. The next time at bat, he walked with nobody on.

“That speaks volumes about the respect people have for him,” Spell said.

If Kemp fits the mold of a former Bulldog, Spell said, it’s minor leaguer Kirby Bellow, who currently pitches in long-season Class A ball in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Kemp is also a left-hander on the mound.

“He works extremely hard and sets an example for our ballclub and is fun to be around,” Spell said of Kemp.

Kemp’s batting has earned him a scholarship with Lamar for next season. He’s the reigning 22-5A Hitter of the Year and won district MVP accolades as a freshman.

Choosing the Cardinals for college was an easy decision for Kemp, especially with a big pool of local players committing to coach Will Davis’ program. Among the November signees were PNG outfielder Logan LeJeune and righty Brendan Dunkleberger.

They’re among a recruiting class for the 2018 season Perfect Game scouting service ranked the 80th best in the nation and top-ranked in the Southland Conference.

“Lamar was an easy decision for me, especially when I went on the visit,” Kemp said. “It feels like home and I liked the coaches. I like the players who are there now, and I think it’s going to be a great fit.

“I think it’s great for the program, especially to get fans because the fans know the local kids. They’re going to go watch them.”

At 7-5 in 22-5A (11-13-2 overall), Nederland is poised to return to the 5A playoffs after missing out last year, with Kemp playing a big part in the Bulldogs’ resurgence. They close their regular season out this week with a series against Port Arthur Memorial starting Tuesday in Port Arthur.

“I think this year we have a lot more leaders take a hold and lead the team like it should be led,” Kemp said.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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