When the 2020 college baseball season was wiped out shortly after it began due to the COVID-19 pandemic and players were given another year of eligibility, Trevor DeLaite of the University of Maine decided to transfer.
The senior relief ace opted to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. And he said it has been one of the best decisions he has ever made.
The former Bangor High School star is having a terrific season for the 33-11 Flames.
DeLaite, a left-hander, was named the ASUN Conference Pitcher of the Week for his five-hit, 4-0 shutout over Kennesaw State. He struck out five and walked two while becoming the first Flames pitcher since 2015 to throw two shutouts in a season.
“Trevor could have chosen to transfer anywhere in the country but he chose Liberty, and now here he is a key contributor to what has been a great season for us,” Liberty head coach Scott Jackson said. “He has been very consistent and a stabilizing force at the front of our weekend rotation. He has pitched well every time he has gone out there and sets the tone for the weekend each Friday night.
DeLaite, who is 8-1 with a 2.28 earned run average, leads the conference with three complete games and is tied for the ASUN lead in victories and innings pitched (75).
In 12 starts, he has allowed 59 hits with 65 strikeouts and 17 walks. Opponents are hitting .221 against him.
DeLaite, a graduate student working toward a master’s degree in executive leadership, admitted that he is surprised by his success to date.
“I definitely didn’t expect to have as good a year as I’ve had,” DeLaite said. “But I’ve been healthy and the coaches are letting me be myself and have trusted me.”
DeLaite was the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the recipient of the Dr. John Winkin Award given to the state’s top senior baseball player in 2016. He was 9-1 with a miniscule 0.30 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 66 innings.
But he struggled with injuries and control during his first two seasons at UMaine. He moved into the closer role in 2019 and enjoyed an outstanding season (seven saves, 2.12 ERA).
DeLaite pitched only four innings in the abbreviated 2020 season.
DeLaite had exhibited an outstanding changeup early in his high school career but got away from it later because he didn’t need it. At UMaine, he became a fastball-slider pitcher.
During the summer of 2019, when he was pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League, he began working on his changeup with pitching coach Ray Korn.
He now uses it and his fastball as his two primary pitches. His fastball is in the 87-90 mph range but has good movement on it.
DeLaite also has begun refining his slider and is gaining more confidence in it. He has been able to pitch hitters effectively inside.
He has been getting more fly-ball outs than ground-ball outs and said he is fortunate to have one of the nation’s best defensive teams behind him. Liberty ranks fourth among 286 Division I schools with a .984 fielding percentage.
“Our outfielders are crazy good,” he said.
Liberty ranks 10th with a 3.26 team ERA.
DeLaite said he has a great bunch of teammates and has learned a lot from Jackson and pitching coach Matt Williams.
DeLaite, who earned a degree in finance from UMaine, enjoys pitching in warmer weather. He and wife Morgan (Buck), a recent Husson University graduate, like living in Virginia.
But DeLaite, a former standout hockey player at Bangor High, admits he misses Maine.
The Flames have clinched the ASUN North Division with their 17-1 league record and will conclude the regular season with a three-game set at Kennesaw State.
The 6-foot, 200-pound DeLaite is scheduled to pitch on Friday night.
He would love to get the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament and possibly earn a free-agent contract to pitch in the pros.
“But if this is the end of my baseball career, it is a great way to end it with a good season,” DeLaite said.