Georgia State junior infielder Chad Prain, a native of Valdosta and a former Valdosta Wildcat standout, is putting together one of the best college baseball seasons in history.
The 5-foot-8 Prain ranks second in the NCAA with a .500 batting average (43-of-86) through the Panthers’ first 22 games this season.
“This team is exciting and fearless,” Prain staid. “We are well-coached on our approach to hitting and we all know our roles and how we can help the team first. We have a plan and the plan is working. We know bunts, hit by pitches and sacrifice flies are just as important as the home run.”
Everything has come together for Georgia State, and Prain, this season. As a team, the Panthers ranked third in slugging percentage, No. 15 in walks, and No. 22 in home runs, in addition to the high batting average and runs.
“Players with pride can be dangerous and we got our pride hurt in January when we were voted by all the other coaches in our league to finish dead last,” Prain remembered clearly. “Anyone in our line-up can bat in any position in the line-up, or step up and pinch-hit in the clutch,” he added. “Every single player on this team is a competitor who expects to win.
“This Georgia State team is fearless and will battle to the last out,” Prain continued. “That is not an exaggeration since the Panthers have come from behind seven times to win and won two with walk-off home runs. “And our bullpen is strong because when we get them a lead, they usually hold it.”
Prain’s success is no accident. He demands a lot of himself and expects to succeed here just as he has before. His toughness was obvious on the football field for one of Georgia’s top high school programs at Valdosta High where he was a star receiver. When he got called to step in at quarterback, he promptly carried the ball six times for 159 yards (26.5 yards per carry) with three touchdowns, while passing 4-of-6 times for 87 yards in that single game.
In baseball at Valdosta, there was his .416 season batting average, striking out only three times. There were moments like a 12-for-15 series against rival Camden County that included a grand-slam home run to move on to the elite eight round of the state tournament. He had a walk-off home run in the final four round as a underclassman.
When asked to explain his success as a youth, Prain pointed to his older brother, Taylor. “Taylor was two years older than me, but my mom had me play up higher in his league, so that meant some of the kids were a little bigger and better and I had to keep up. But, the thing that motivated me a lot was not getting to play every day if I couldn’t prove to the coach I should be playing all the time.”
In explaining how he is able to hit a moving target so well when 3-of-10 is considered a success, Prain logically explained. “I think it is a matter of concentration and practice,” he noted. “It is quality repetitions and it is a muscle-memory reaction. It happens if you do it often enough the right way, you automatically see it and the muscles react to hit it. No one is born to hit, you just work and work to become a hitter.”
His battle strategy starts with confidence. “I am determined and I think confidence in myself is one of my biggest weapons,” he stated. “I look at each moment as a one-on-one battle, whether I am in the batter’s box or fielding my position. I want to win that specific battle and then I move to the next battle and the next battle.”
A look at his stat sheet reflects why he should have plenty of confidence. He has produced two 4-hit games, three 3-hit games, and nine 2-hit games, which makes 14 multi-hit games of the 21 that GSU has played this season. Over his last 10 games, Prain is 25-of-47, a .532 average, which would help him towards his amazing goal of not just hitting a rare .400, but accomplishing a remarkable .500 batting average. His ability to get on base includes getting hit by a pitch seven times and his speed helps him beat out some hits as well as steal bases, which is a perfect 7-for-7 total this year.
His inner strength also has been a lifetime of work. “I wear a cross around my neck and when I step into the batter’s box, I trace a cross with my bat. I quietly give thanks for being where I am. Then, I trust the natural ability that I have been blessed with,” Prain added.
Prain is noted for his energetic role. “I don’t really think about it, but I guess I go full speed all the time because that is the only way I know how. I don’t ever want to let a teammate down because I see them working so hard,” he offered. “I want my teammates to know I want to win as badly as they do and will do my part. Baseball needs all nine people, plus a bench and bullpen to be successful. A LeBron James can decide a basketball game sometimes by himself, But, baseball isn’t that way. Baseball is all of us together.”
“We really don’t have anything to prove to ourselves, but it is apparent we have something to prove to others,” Prain finished. “We expect to win every time we step on the field and the wins keep adding up as long as no one worries about who gets the credit. We think we are earning our success through preparation and effort and we plan on staying aggressive all season long.”
This should help explain why Georgia State’s record has them in first place in the CAA and the statistical success has them near the top of the NCAA charts.
Head coach Greg Frady values Prain as much for his energy as for his production.
“Chad Prain is a very aggressive gamer who shows up every day with a great attitude and tremendous enthusiasm,” said Frady. “One of the reasons we wanted to get him on the field is that he brings so much positive energy. He’s a good hitter, he’s a fast base-runner, and he plays really hard. He certainly has stepped up.”