Graves, Tigers excited for new era of Pacific baseball

A baseball player runs the bases at a Pacific Tigers game.

Chase Graves

Each time senior outfielder Chase Graves ’24 steps up to the batter’s box, he goes through his routine, “The Shimmy.”

“I draw the initials of a family friend who passed away, dig in the box, brush dirt off, click on the heels, look at my bat, take a deep breath and wiggle it all out,” Graves said. “It is the weirdest thing ever, but the whole team has gotten behind my approach. One of my coaches told me just to relax and have fun, and I have stuck with it.”

Graves developed “The Shimmy” when he was a sophomore at University of the Pacific. Following a tense at-bat where he got a base hit, Graves decided to stick with the routine, which led to a hot streak in his second year and into his junior season.

Now, as a senior, Graves looks to lead his teammates into an exciting new era of baseball, featuring a new scoreboard, a revitalized coaching staff and an influx of arms and bats.

“Out of all the years I’ve been here, this is the most excited I’ve been just because of how awesome the group of guys is and how great the coaches have worked with us,” Graves said.

Pacific coach Chris Rodriguez feels the positive energy from his squad and is eager to start his fourth season.

“I would say the vibe around the locker room is excitement for the 2024 season,” Rodriguez said. “We are coming off one of the best fall seasons we have had since I came to Pacific. With another year under their belts, this young group of Tigers is ready to show how they have matured and face the challenges of the season.”

The Tigers have many familiar faces that will maintain important roles, but new faces will also have a big effect on the upcoming season. Pacific has 16 new members, including nine pitchers.

One of those familiar faces is Graves, who is excited to take on a leadership role among the outfielders.

“Outfielders have a special bond,” Graves said. “The outfield groups over four years have been tightly knit. That started when I got here. I think in college that has been my favorite part. The whole team is your family, but my outfield family is also really special to me. There is no better feeling than making a cool play in the outfield. Nothing beats making a diving play or catching the ball against the wall.”

Rodriguez is impressed with how far Graves has come, growing into a vocal leader of the team.

“Chase is one of those players that when I first watched him, I thought, ‘He can be a good player,’” Rodriguez said. “His junior year, he had a breakout season and established himself as a starter. Chase has matured into the player I knew he could be; however, it is his leadership skills that he has displayed this fall, which has been a truly impressive character trait of who Chase has become.”

Graves discovered his passion for baseball when he was just three years old, watching baseball and playing catch with his father, Paul, who played at Loyola Marymount.

“I always tell everyone baseball is my first love of life and it still is,” Graves said. “I do not remember a life without baseball. It’s always been there as my passion and my dream.”

Graves and the rest of the Tigers have their eyes set on the West Coast Conference tournament in May.

“I just want to win,” Graves said. “It does not matter if I go 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, but if I can do something to help the team win, then I am doing my job. I want to go to Vegas this year and play in the WCC Tournament. I do not want my last game to be at home. I want my last game to be, at minimum, in Vegas.”

Pacific baseball begins the 2024 campaign with seven straight games at home, starting with a three-game series against UNLV Friday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 18. See the full schedule.