OHS seniors Chase Bloomer and Austin Nitcher push each other to realize dreams
Ottawa High School seniors Chase Bloomer and Austin Nitcher feed off of each other.
No matter the activity, the Cyclones push each other to new heights. Not only on the baseball field or basketball court, but in the weight room and life in general.
It was baseball that grew them close together. They started playing together in youth leagues and progressed on the same traveling teams.
“It is amazing,” Nitcher said. “Baseball has brought us closer. We do everything together.”
Bloomer said their friendship is more than most friendships.
“We have been playing with each other forever,” he said. “When we first went up [to Lawrence], we did not know anybody. We push each other to be better every day.”
OHS baseball coach Shawn Herrmann said their competitive spirit drives each other.
“They both want to be the best players on the field, the best hitters, so they push each other in the summer or on the basketball court,” Herrmann said. “They are best friends. They are throwing partners every day. They push each other every day and that helps them a lot. Other kids look up to that.”
Both athletes goals were to play college baseball. The two celebrated together when they signed with their college teams. Bloomer is heading to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, an NCAA Division I program. Nitcher selected Barton County Community College.
“We knew we would play college baseball for awhile,” Bloomer said. “We pushed each other to get to that next level.”
The two play beside each other in the field with Bloomer at shortstop and Nitcher manning third base. Nitcher said they fit together well on the diamond.
“We definitely have our own communication,” he said. “Something that most people don’t have. We know each other. We crack jokes sometimes. Communication on balls between us, we just know what each other’s capabilities are. We know what plays [each other] can make.”
Herrmann knew all along they were special together on the left side of the infield. But hit home this past summer when the two played together for Kansas Red Team in the High Plains Series in Enid, Oklahoma. Herrmann was an assistant coach for Kansas.
“I almost took it for granted until this summer when we went to Oklahoma,” Herrmann said “They were the two best players on the field. Every coach [said], ‘this is your left side of the diamond. These guys can play.’ I saw them making diving plays. It shows what hard work does. They are two of the hardest working kids — not just on the diamond, but off the diamond.”
Both bring different intangibles to the baseball field. Nitcher is an intense player. Bloomer leads by example.
“Austin is very quiet,” Herrmann said. “He hates to fail. He hates to lose. He hates to strikeout. When he is pitching, he gives up a ground ball hit, he is mad about it. That drives the basketball team, baseball team. Anything he does, he wants to be the man. I love that about him. I love what he brings to our team as far as the competitiveness.
“Chase is also super quiet. When they are together, they talk non-stop. Chase is our leader. He is our lead-off hitter. He sets the tone. Austin is right behind him. That is a pretty good 1-2 or 1-2-3 punch. He is strong-armed and smooth fielding [player]. Both are really good pitchers. No matter where they play they will be successful.”
Bloomer is just the second Cyclone to sign with a Division I program out of high school, joining Blaine Ray, who played for Kansas.
“It says something special about him as what kind of kid he is,” Herrmann said. “He had tons of opportunities. He could have went a lot of different places. He is the type of kid when practice is over, he is going to the weight room, taking the extra swing or ground balls. He wants to be the best player. To be a Division I baseball player, you have to do all the extra things.
“He is ripped and strong. That is from hard work in the weight room.
It is a reward for them and their families. Both families drive all across the country in the summer and supportive of our baseball program.”
Bloomer selected SIU-Edwardsville because of the team culture.
“The coaches were so open,” he said. “They wanted to bring me in. It is how they develop guys. They don’t over recruit.”
Nitcher said Barton felt like home on his visit and the coaches have a reputation of developing Division I prospects.
“I know a few guys that went [there] and gone up to bigger schools,” Nitcher said. “They said, ‘they can get me there.’ It is one of my bigger goals.’
The duo wants to make this last season together memorable.
“Always the state championship [is the goal],” Nitcher said. ‘We want to leave it all on the line. One last ride.”