Casa Grande High School senior Francis Christy will follow the Oregon trail as he continues to pursue his dream of professional baseball.
Christy, an All-Empire catcher for the Gauchos, has agreed to play baseball and study at the University of Oregon once he graduates from Casa Grande this spring.
Christy hit a walloping .421 for the Gauchos as a sophomore, collecting 32 hits that included seven doubles, two triples and five home runs in 76 at bats.
He had a .505 on-base percentage and a .763 slugging percentage. Blessed with a cannon-like arm, he was also one of the Redwood Empire's top defensive catchers.
Several colleges took notice of the numbers and Christy's impressive physical abilities, and he had several offers, but his eye was always on Oregon.
"I was kind of set on going there," he said.
Christy said a large part of his decision was based on Oregon head coach George Horton, who came to Oregon from Cal State Fullerton and has been instrumental in resurrecting the Oregon program that was reinstated in 2007 after being dormant since 1981. During his three seasons at Oregon, the Ducks have compiled an 86-90-1 record, improving each season. Last year the Ducks were 33-026-1 and were 10-3-1 in their last 14 games.
"The team is family oriented," observed Christy. "Coach expects the players to play and act like a team."
Another part of his decision was the campus.
"I was instantly impressed with the campus and Eugene. It is a great campus and a great area."
Christy also liked the idea that Oregon offers a sports management major that would allow him to received a diploma within three years, a consideration for a player who hopes some day to be a Major League baseball draft choice.
The Oregon training facilities are among the best of any university on the west coast.
Training facilities are important for Christy, who works hard on both conditioning and his baseball skills.
"I hit almost every single day," he said. "Every day I try to get better."
Although he works at improving at the plate, it is behind the plate that Christy says he needs the most improvement.
"It wasn't until my freshman year that I started to get serious about catching," he explained. "I learned a lot in my sophomore year."
Christy realizes that catching is generally accepted as offering the quickest route to the Major League, but the more he plays the position, the more he enjoys it for its own sake.
"You are always involved in the game," he explained. "You have to be 100 percent involved in the game all the time."
Christy is the son of Frank Christy and Donna Kamahele. His sophomore brother, Jon Christy, is a starter on the Casa varsity basketball team.