A member of the Casa Grande High School baseball family has been chosen to be the new head of the family.
Chad Fillinger, a former Casa Grande pitching standout and professional player, will replace Paul Maytorena as head coach. Maytorena resigned in October after 23 years and 406 wins as Casa head coach.
For the last several years, Maytorena has been trying to convince Fillinger to help him with the Casa Grande program, and Fillinger has helped with the pitchers whenever he was able to spare the time, but resisted getting to heavily involved because of time and family commitments.
“I’m either all in or not at all,” he explained.
He is now definitely all-in.
Things have changed in his life. Fillinger has settled into his profession, working with his father, Steve Fillinger, a former Petaluma Little League coach in the insurance business. His wife, Mary, has opened a new business and his daughter, Reese, is now 2 years old.
“I’ve always wanted to coach. Now, it is the right time,” Fillinger said.
Plus, he will have an abundance of help, Almost all of Maytorena’s staff will stay on under the new coach, and Maytorena is helping in the transition.
Fillinger has a great deal of respect and appreciation for what Maytorena has accomplished at Casa, but he has no qualms about following the honored coach. “I don’t fear following Paul, I embrace the opportunity of helping to continue to grow the program,” he said.
“Paul left me with a great staff and I am super elated to work with them. What I can bring is a new energy and a commitment to build on what started here under Bob Leslie and continued with Paul.”
Fillinger pointed out that not only did Leslie and Maytorena lead the Gauchos to team success, they also developed a host of successful players. Many went on to careers in college and, since 1993, 13 wore professional uniforms.
One who wore a professional uniform was Fillinger, who followed up a strong career at Casa Grande (playing two years for Leslie) by receiving a scholarship to play for Santa Clara University.
Drafted by the Seattle Mariners, he went on to play four years of professional baseball, the last two at the AA level. He then pitched two years of independent baseball. After baseball, he came back to Petaluma and worked for Cal Fire, and then joined his father in his insurance business.
His wife, Mary, has recently opened Balance Fitness located in the same complex as Fillinger Insurance. Now, her husband has a new office as well, a one-room former equipment shack located behind the baseball backstop on the Casa Grande High School campus.
One of Fillinger’s first moves as Casa Grande baseball coach was to follow through on a project planned by Maytorena and the other Casa baseball coaches. That is to develop a Casa Grande baseball Hall of Fame.
The first inductee will be former Major Leaguer Jonny Gomes, who will be inducted in a gala on Feb. 24 at the Petaluma Golf and Country Club.
The event will not only honor Gomes, but also serve as a fund-raising event for the Casa Grande baseball program.