By STEVE KRAH
Chayce McDermott has transformed since arriving at Ball State University three years ago.
The right-handed baseball pitcher arrived in Muncie, Ind., as a skinny freshman, carrying about 165 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.
“I’ve put on about 30 pounds since I’ve been here,” says McDermott, who turned 22 Aug. 22. “I’m eating healthier and I’m lifting up to twice a day.”
McDermott says he was more of a thrower than a pitcher before college.
A redshirt junior in 2020-21, McDermott is now a solid 195 or 200 and has learned how to refine his deliveries in an attempt to get hitters out.
“I’m more confident (on the mound),” says McDermott. “I understand how to pitch.
“As time’s gone out I’ve thrown a little harder and have a better understanding of my pitches.”
A 2017 graduate of Pendleton (Ind.) Heights High School, where he earned three baseball letters for head coach Travis Keesling, McDermott was a two-time all-Hoosier Heritage Conference selection.
In his senior year, he went 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 49 innings for a team that went 19-6.
Nursing an injury, McDermott redshirted in 2018 — his first year with the BSU Cardinals.
The righty appeared in 10 games (nine starts) as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and went 4-1 with a 3.64 earned run average. In 42 innings, he struck out out 54, walked 26 and held opponents to a .228 batting average.
In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, McDermott made three appearances as the “Sunday” starter and went 0-1 with a 5.02 ERA. In 14 1/3 innings, he struck out 20, walked six and yielded a .192 opponent batting mark. He fanned 11 in six no-hit innings in a win against the University of Richmond on March 7.
McDermott was brought to Ball State by head coach Rich Maloney and has worked with two pitching coaches. Larry Scully has led that group since August 2019. Before that is was Dustin Glant.
The 2020 season was Maloney’s 26th in coaching and 16th at Ball State.
“It’s amazing,” says McDermott of playing for Maloney. “He always has our back no batter what.
“He knows great people in the game. It’s truly a blessing to get his insight.”
Scully has been coaching baseball for 27 years.
“He’s taught me how to work with pitches a little bit more,” says McDermott of Scully. “He’s helped me a lot with curve, slider and change-up, where to throw a pitch and how to think in different counts.
“He’s helped me understand the game a lot better and adjust on pitches as the game goes on.”
Scully has helped McDermott find the strike zone on a more consistent basis.
“My control is constantly improving,” says McDermott. “It’s come along as I worked on things with my delivery and strength.”
Glant, who is now a minor league pitching coach in the New York Yankees organization, is credited for shaping McDermott’s mound tenacity
“Coach Glant was super intense and energetic,” says McDermott. “He taught me how to be tough — kind of cocky, but in a controlled way.
“He helped me with my velocity when I got here and keeping my arm shorter.”
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, McDermott uses a four-seam fastball that sat around 91 to 94 mph and topped out at 96 during the spring and summer.
“I try to keep the spin rate up so it spins over the top of bats,” says McDermott of his four-seamer. “That way I get more swings and misses.”
Deception is the idea behind his “circle” change-up.
McDermott employs an 11-to-5 curveball.
“It’s not straight up and down,” says McDermott. “It has a little bit of side-run to it (going into left-handed hitters and away from righties). I want to get as much movement on it as possible.”
The slider is a “work-in-progress” that McDermott plans to mix in during fall workouts. When thrown the way he wants, the pitch has downward break and runs in on lefty batters.
When the pandemic hit, McDermott had not yet nailed down where he might play in the summer. He wound up being able to commute from Anderson, Ind., and pitched as a starter and reliever for the Local Legends in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. He racked up 33 strikeouts and 10 walks in 14 innings while holding foes to one runs on four hits.
That squad was coached by Butler assistants Ben Norton and Jake Ratz and featured McDermott’s friend and former youth and travel ball teammate Joe Moran.
“I really enjoyed (the Grand Park league),” says McDermott. “It was close to home and had great players in it. It was good to play with guys I knew from high school and meet new guys from around the Indiana baseball scene.”
It was the first summer McDermott has pitched since 2016. He stayed at home and worked the past two summers and went to Ball State early to begin adding muscle in the summer of 2017.
McDermott is on schedule to earn a Psychology degree from Ball State in the spring. He chose the major because he sees it as pair well with his career choice.
“I just want to be a coach and stay around baseball as long as possible,” says McDermott. “Understanding the minds of people will help.”
Born and raised on the north side of Anderson, McDermott played at Riverfield Little League until he was 13.
He played travel ball of two years with the Justin Wittenberg-coached Magic City Orioles and one with Sam Wilkerson’s Indiana Raiders before spending his 17U summer with the Sean Laird-coached Indiana Bulls.
“Coach Laird is enthusiastic and aggressive about everything,” says McDermott. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a coach that was as pumped about games as he was.”
Chayce is the youngest of Mike and Kim McDermott’s two sons. Mike McDermott is a UPS driver. Kim McDermott is a lawyer’s assistant.
Brother Sean McDermott (23) played basketball at Pendleton Heights and appeared in 125 games (79 as a starter) at Butler University. The 6-foot-6, 195-pounder is currently exploring professional hoops opportunities.