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Casa's Christy was dialed in for Area Code Games

By MICHAELCOIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Competing with the best prep baseball players in the country didn’t rattle Francis Christy’s confidence.

Making the elite Area Code Baseball Games is remarkable enough, with hundreds of professional scouts and college coaches evaluating players. The All-Empire catcher from Casa Grande High made the most of his playing time — Christy earned all-tournament honors.

“Seeing how you stacked up against everyone was pretty intense,” said Christy, a senior this year and committed to the University of Oregon. “It was hard to not be nervous. I tried my best.”

Held at landmark Blair Field, home to Long Beach State, the Area Code Games feature high school undergraduates from across the nation. Selected by Major League Baseball scouts, the players competed on eight teams in games over five days this month.

Christy was among some two dozen Bay Area players, all on the Oakland Athletics team. With more than 30 on the roster, playing time was at a premium.

“You’ve just always got to be on your toes,” Christy said. “You always have to be there ready because you never know when you’re going to get your at-bat.”

Bat he did, more often than crouch behind home plate. Christy’s highlight among his hits was stroking a two-run double against the Cincinnati Reds squad.

Consistently good at-bats gained Christy plate appearances. Patience and staying relaxed helped facing pitchers throwing harder — major-league-type heat — than maybe what Christy faced in the prep season.

“They were intense,” Christy said.

Equally impressive was the image of scouts by the dozens raising and lowering radar guns to gauge pitching speeds.
“When you look back in the stands, it was ridiculous,” Christy said.

Although he had hoped to catch more innings, Christy still had no complaints. There were a handful of catchers on the A’s, who finished second in the tournament.

“It was a very good place to be,” Christy said.

An impressive roster of former Area Code players have been All-Stars in the majors. Just from Northern California alone are CC Sabathia, Jimmy Rollins, Troy Tulowitzki and Dustin Pedroia.

Should his play help Christy get drafted, it would be a bonus, but he is excited about the promise of playing at Oregon.

“I would love to get drafted and go right after high school,” Christy said. “But I know I will have a great opportunity at Oregon.”

First is a fall of conditioning and working with top catching coaches. Christy hopes to help lead Casa Grande to a North Coast Section title after falling short in the playoffs his first three seasons.

“We’re definitely going for our league,” Christy said. “We might as well go win NCS.”