‘He’s got tons of rock-like qualities’: How Chase Adkison’s winding journey led him to big role at OSU – Oklahoman.com

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STILLWATER — This is the story of a rock.

Not a marshmallow, a tasty treat that melts when heated up. Not a jelly bean, a shiny candy itself but one that can be squished under pressure.

A rock, though not the fanciest, is the indestructible object.

It can be burned, put under pressure, thrown or just about anything, and it remains the same.

Oklahoma State catcher Chase Adkison is the rock.

“He’s strong, he’s steady, he’s consistent, he’s tough, he’s smart, he never changes expression,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said earlier this week after crafting the rock analogy he learned at Vanderbilt. 

“I think he’s got tons of rock-like qualities, which is really what you want to be. You want to be somebody that can handle all those different challenges and not change your composition.”

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Rock solid is how Adkison was forced to be throughout his life.

At a young age, Adkison began traveling the country playing high-level baseball. He moved before high school from talent-rich Southern California to wide-open Idaho. He went to Boise State, only for the pandemic to shutter the program and force him to a junior college.

Now, he’s with the Cowboys.

When No. 7-ranked OSU hosts rival OU in the conference Bedlam series this weekend, Adkison will be the steadying force behind the plate for a loaded pitching staff. His journey built him for the big moments and shaped him into a strong presence on a talented team.

“Just everyone on the team competes,” Adkison said. “Everyone wants to be better. They’re striving to do better every day. As far as being on the team, I just love coming to the field every day and being around them. I love it.”

Adkison has loved baseball since he was little.

Growing up in Los Angeles, he fell for the game as his older brother Tyler became a star. By the age of 10, Chase was being homeschooled and traveling across the country to play. He spent a year playing for a travel team from Miami, Florida, living with the coach for a few months and returning to his family in L.A. for a few weeks or a month at a time.

There, he played with a young pitcher named Victor Mederos, now his teammate with the Cowboys. 

“Obviously, that was one of the top teams in the country playing travel ball,” Chase said. “So, we just moved out there to challenge myself a little more.”

And that wild adventure prepared him for the next step a few years later: leaving California.

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Just before starting high school, the Adkisons moved to Grangeville, Idaho, a town with just more than 3,000 people. 

Chase never wanted to leave L.A. He had friends there and the baseball was great. He had hoped to stay with his grandma, but that was not financially feasible. So, Chase begrudgingly moved, even crying on the drive.

Chase was instantly a star at his new high school. But he grew frustrated with the level of play.

That led to a challenge from his dad, David.

Don’t have the attitude of being better than them. Help them along. And Chase became a valuable leader as he set school records and became one of the best players in the state, batting .650 as a junior.

“That’s probably the proudest thing that I think he’s done, because he did pretty much exactly that,” David said. “He brought the teams and even the coaches to a new level around here.”

Chase then signed with Boise State, a program that was restarted in 2018 but did not play an official game until his freshman season in 2020. That year, he started eight games and batted .324. But the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.

The team never returned.

Late in the summer while Chase was playing in North Dakota, he received an email from the university saying the program was being shut down to reduce the athletic department’s budget.

“It took a while to hit,” Chase said.

Two weeks later, he realized he needed to find a new school. 

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His brother Tyler had played at San Diego State and professionally in the Dodgers’ organization. San Diego State was a walk-on option, but Tyler was contacted by his old spring training roommate Devin Smeltzer, who reached out to coaches at his alma mater San Jacinto (Texas) College.

Chase went there and thrived. A few weeks into his first semester, he had multiple Power 5 scholarship opportunities, including OSU. He took a few weeks but ultimately chose the Cowboys.

“I’d say for most guys on the (Boise State) team it worked out a lot better,” Chase said. “I’m fortunate it happened. Looking back on it, it was probably one of the best things to happen. I would have loved to stay there and play there, but the way it worked out, it’s great to be here.”

Since his arrival, he’s become the team’s primary catcher. He’s had big moments, hitting key home runs and delivering big hits. 

But his most important work has been behind the plate.

“The best thing he does is I think he works harder than anybody on the field and he goes out for the whole team,” Mederos said.

Those words came after Mederos delivered an analogy. There is a marshmallow, a gummy bear and a rock. Chase again is the rock.

That’s twice Chase was labeled a rock. Yet Adkison had never heard it until Medero’s version.

It’s certainly fitting.

“I like to agree with it,” Chase said. “I like that.”

Jacob Unruh covers college sports for The Oklahoman. You can send your story ideas to him at junruh@oklahoman.com or on Twitter at @jacobunruh. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

OU at No. 7 OSU

Game 1: 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN+)

Game 2: 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

Game 3: 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPN+)