Quiet shortstop wields loud bat
When Todd Whitting signed on to take over as the head baseball coach at UH, he noticed a large hole on his depth chart at shortstop.
“Blake Kelso was gone, he had signed a professional contract, and there was no one returning,” Whitting said.
Whitting had a solution, though, remembering a tall, skinny kid from Arlington that he had scouted while at TCU — Chase Jensen.
“You can’t just recruit what you want all the time,” Whitting said. “You have to get what you need. I watched him play summer ball, but at TCU at the time we didn’t have a need for him.
“It was better for him to go to junior college, and when I got here there was a glaring need at shortstop.”
Jensen spent one season at Weatherford College, where he had the opportunity to play every day and fill out his frame.
“I thought I developed a lot more,” Jensen said. “I didn’t think I was ready for Division-I out of high school.”
Whitting said that the difference between Jensen now after a season of junior college and when he scouted him in high school is tremendous.
“Physically he has gotten stronger,” Whitting said. “He’s always been a slender kid. He always had a good glove, but I thought he was a little light with the bat.
“But he has gotten much better. I think he’s a much better player than he was after a year at Weatherford. He’s already a better player since he has been with us since the fall.”
Jensen’s improvement has helped alleviate the loss his predecessor, Kelso.
“Obviously those are big shoes to fill,” Jensen said. “I knew about him before I even thought about coming here. He’s a great player and I’ve talked to him a few times.”
Despite once being known more for his slick glove-work and strong arm, Jensen now hits third for the Cougars and has posted a slash line of .378/.402/.551.
Jensen leads Conference USA in total bases with 54 through 21 games.
Leading by example
Jensen admits to not being the most vocal amongst his teammates, but Whitting points out the adage that actions can sometimes speak louder than words in terms of being a leader.
“He’s a really quiet guy, but he has a workhorse kind of attitude,” Whitting said. “He’s one of the leaders of our team. A leader is a guy that is always on time, and always stays late.”
Whitting was known for helping build TCU into a national power, and if he continues to recruit players like Jensen, he will have a consistent winner at UH as well.