Athlete of the week: Caulfield dominates for Chambers Academy

Published 11:55 am Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Every season, coaches come in with expectations for each player and how they can help the team. Chambers Academy’s coaching staff had expectations just like anybody else, but Jon Caulfield has far exceeded those expectations. 

Caulfield, a junior, was expected to be a viable option for the Rebels coming out of the bullpen. Caulfield had spent the majority of his sophomore season as a reliever, but he has now become a reliable starting pitcher and everyday part of Chambers Academy’s lineup. 

“He started out the year, we thought he was going to be a guy that could come out of the bullpen for us. He had a couple of really good outings, so we decided to give him a few starts. He just seems like he’s gotten a little bit better every single week.” 

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Caulfield has appeared in eight games for the Rebels, with six of those coming in relief, and he has pitched just over 25 innings. In those 25 innings, Caulfield has allowed just two earned runs while striking out 19 batters. 

Caulfield’s improvement culminated on Tuesday as the Rebels faced Ezekiel Academy. Caulfield got the start on the mound and put together one of the more dominant performances you will see at any level.
Caulfield pitched a no-hitter,  allowing just three walks and striking out nine batters. Caulfield is about as even-keeled as any player in high school, but going into the final inning Caulfield was a complete ball of nerves with the no-hitter on the line. 

“Going into the seventh inning, I was really nervous,” Caulfield said. “You’re thinking about it the whole time and you don’t want to lose it. Once I got it, I felt relieved. It was a good feeling.” 

Caulfield walked the first two batters in the inning before NeSmith came out for a mound visit. The mound visit from his coach was all the rest and confidence Caulfield needed to shut the game down and have his moment in the Sun. 

“I was tired going into the last inning, started to walk a couple of people. I was really tired,” Caulfield said. “Coach Dillon came out there to talk to us so it gave me a little bit of a break. I thought that was the right call to come out there and talk to me.” 

Caulfield’s improvement on the field has come in several areas. Caulfield did not spend a lot of time at the plate last season, but this year he has become a guy that Chambers Academy can put at first base and not have much of a drop-off in production. 

Caulfield worked on his swing during the offseason to hopefully become a more reliable option for the Rebels. Caulfield spent time just hitting off a tee and going back to the basics. 

NeSmith has been the most impressed with Caulfield’s work ethic. NeSmith will drive by the practice field at all hours of the night and fight Caulfield in the cage working on his game. 

“I’ll come out here at eight or nine o’clock at night and see him out here in the cage hitting by himself or just throwing off the mound,” NeSmith said. “He puts the work in. He puts the work in when nobody’s looking.” 

Caulfield has added several secondary pitches to his arsenal this season after mostly relying on his fastball in the past. Caulfield’s newfound pitch mix added in with his aggressive nature has made it tough for any opposing hitter to get on base. 

Caulfield plays offensive tackle and defensive tackle for Chambers Academy’s football team. His big frame and funky throwing motion add an extra intimidation factor. 

Caulfield’s throwing motion is completely unique. It somewhat resembles a submarine pitcher’s motion, but it is not quite the same. Caulfield learned the motion on his own and has been comfortable with it ever since. 

“I just went with what felt comfortable with my arm and what made it not hurt when I was throwing,” Caulfield said. “It just felt real natural and comfortable to throw like that.” 

Athletes with Caulfield’s work ethic are usually aiming toward a higher goal of playing collegiately or professionally. That is not Caulfield’s reason for doing it. Caulfield’s motivation comes from a desire to be a valuable part of the team. 

“I want to be the best I can be for my team and for everybody,” Caulfield said. “I thought that putting in more work would help my team a lot more.” 

Chambers Academy often gets transfers that become a major part of the team. Caulfield is the furthest thing from a transfer, he is a Chambers Academy kid through and through and has grown up within the Rebels’ program. 

“He’s been here his whole life,” NeSmith said. “I’ve seen him grow up since he was in fourth or fifth grade. It’s just been really awesome seeing him kind of mature.” 

Caulfield has never really had professional athletes that he wanted to mirror his game after. Instead, he grew up watching and admiring his older brother. 

Ben Caulfield graduated from Chambers Academy and played catcher for the baseball team while also playing a major role for the Rebels on the gridiron. Ben helped Jon develop his swing during the summer, and he helped him grow into his throwing motion as a young kid when the two spent time just throwing in their backyard or wherever else they could go. 

“It was really my brother who helped me a lot because he was a catcher,” Jon said. “That was fun playing with him. He was a senior when I was in ninth grade, so I was on varsity. I played with him a little bit, [and] he caught some pens for me.” 

Jon is far from being just Ben’s little brother now, he has now developed into a star in his own right at Chambers Academy. 

“He was a lot better hitter than I am,” Jon said. “Trying to catch up to him was what I would do. He couldn’t really pitch, so I had that on him.” 

As a junior, Caulfield does not really have plans to pursue playing in college after he graduates in 2025. Caulfield is fully focused on helping the team win a state championship this season.

The Rebels begin their quest for a deep playoff run as they host Hooper Academy on April 19, and NeSmith expects Caulfield and some of the other younger players to play a major role in the team’s success.