Chase Plymell is a new man.
After pitching for Central Missouri in the Division II College Baseball World Series, Plymell — who played baseball for Smith-Cotton High School, the American Legion Post 642 Sedalia Travelers and State Fair Community College — returned to Liberty Park Stadium with the Joplin Outlaws having spent the year re-tooling his mechanics and earning high-leverage experience.
The Outlaws (20-16, 14-15 MINK) are in the hunt for the top seed in MINK League South, thanks in part to a 3-0 record behind Plymell's starts. Joining the team late after the World Series run, Plymell has 14 strikeouts, five walks and a 4.86 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.
When the spring season started, Plymell appeared to languish in the Mules’ bullpen, logging five innings in seven appearances from February to April and entering the MIAA Conference Baseball Tournament with a 16.20 ERA.
“Early in the year it was a struggle,” Plymell said. “I had to learn my body all over again. Early in the year, that’s what I was working on, trying to find me.”
Behind-the-scenes efforts help Plymell garner his first start and record his first win as a Mule during a tournament-clinching, 10-2 victory over the Bronchos of Central Oklahoma. Plymell yielded two runs on five hits and landed a spot on the hot list when the Mules advanced to the D-II College Baseball World Series in Cary, North Carolina.
Plymell said he spent countless hours analyzing video of his mechanics and data from Raposodo, which measures metrics like spin rate and trajectory, to help increase his velocity.
“Early on, when I started to build and progress, it was all about learning what my body is doing and make sure everything is doing the right thing.” Plymell said. “When velocity started to show up, it was like, let's start working on command and control and my pitches.”
Breaking down the mechanics of his delivery to their foundations — and building them up again — broadened his perspective on baseball, Plymell said.
“To get all the pieces together,” Plymell said. “That was always there. It was just about me working and getting better and showing up everyday and having the wherewithal to know what I was doing and taking pride in my work.
“The pieces were always there, it was just about making it fit together.”
During his personal rebuild, Plymell said his teammates and the UCM coaching staff were relentlessly supportive.
“They told me to keep working,” Plymell said. “‘We’re going to need you.’”
Plymell returned to action in a must-win World Series contest against No. 4-ranked Ashland, delivering two perfect frames to keep the Mules alive, 11-3. He registered four outs during a 7-5 victory over top-ranked Colorado Mesa to force an if-necessary game, a one-run epic that dealt Central Missouri a third-place finish and ended its season.
“It was one of those games where it was an instant classic,” Plymell said. “You know whoever won, deserved to win.”
Despite falling short of the ultimate prize, Plymell said he soaked in the World Series atmosphere at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
“It was like a baseball heaven,” Plymell said. “It was not necessarily nerve-wracking, it was more like an excitement. You worked all year to get this far and now you get a chance you prove you're the best of the best. The nervous is gone. It’s just about going out there like, this is what we are. At the end of the day, we’re good enough to beat anyone.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.