Trevor DeLaite had a remarkable season on the mound for the Liberty University Flames last season after transferring from the University of Maine.
The former Bangor High School star went 12-1 with a 2.17 earned-run average and was named the ASUN Conference Pitcher of the Year. He was one of six finalists for National Pitcher of the Year and a third team All-American.
He threw five complete games and struck out 88 and walked only 20 over 107 ⅔ innings. Opponents hit just .219 against him. He beat Duke University 11-6 in their NCAA Regional opener in Knoxville, Tennessee, going 7 ⅔ innings and allowing eight hits and four earned runs.
But DeLaite never got drafted and didn’t even receive a free agent minor league offer or tryout from a Major League team. Instead, he accepted a graduate assistant position on the Flames coaching staff, offered by Liberty University head coach Scott Jackson.
And he is having a good time.
“I always knew I wanted to try coaching to see if it was something I wanted to do long-term,” explained the 25-year-old DeLaite, who works with the pitchers.
“College baseball is a huge commitment but being able to help guys develop, being around the game and on the baseball field every day is really enjoyable,” said DeLaite, who works under his former pitching coach Matt Williams.
DeLaite did receive an opportunity to pitch for an independent baseball team in Kansas City but said he needed to rest and heal from last season.
“I had to have more time to chill and figure out what was best for my wife and me,” he added.
He said there was a transition period from being a player to coaching some of his former teammates.
“I have a different perspective [being a former player], so I’ve been able to shed some light on things from a player’s perspective,” he said.
He has high praise for Williams.
“He’s great. He has done a ton for me. He has really given me the opportunity to grow and learn,” DeLaite said. “I’m extremely thankful to have the opportunity to work under him.”
He said he felt like he had developed a foundation of knowledge about the mechanics of pitching, but that this year has opened his eyes to the individuality of the role.
“It has given me a new perspective on pitching. I try not to forget how hard it is,” he said. “Figuring out how each guy ticks has been really enjoyable.”
And the pitching staff he has been working with is a good one.
The Flames are 32-18 overall including wins over No. 9 Florida and No. 15 North Carolina. They are 18-9 in the ASUN conference with three games remaining before the tournament.
The staff has a 3.86 earned-run average and 529 strikeouts and just 182 walks in 443 ⅓ innings.
“It’s a very talented staff,” said DeLaite, who has a master’s degree in executive leadership to go with his undergraduate degree in finance. “We have some young guys and some guys with experience, too. Pitching has been the backbone of the team.”
He also said it is a deep staff.
“The depth of our staff sets us up to win games in a tournament. We can win a lot of games in a short amount of time,” he said.
DeLaite was the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, and he also earned the 2016 Dr. John Winkin Award given to the state’s top senior player as he was 9-1 with an 0.30 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 66 innings as he led Bangor to the third of its five straight Class A state championships.
He went to UMaine where, after struggling with injuries and control for two seasons, he emerged as the team’s closer in 2019 and posted seven saves and a 2.12 ERA.
He threw only four innings in the COVID-shortened 2020 season before transferring to Liberty.
DeLaite said he can see himself involved in coaching “for a long time” at some level.
“It has been great. I’m really glad I did it. Even if I’m not in coaching forever, I will take what I have learned from coaching and apply it to whatever I do,” he said.
After the season ends, he will enjoy some down time with his wife Morgan, who is a professional photographer.
And then he will weigh his future opportunities.
“But for right now, I’m focusing on trying to help this team win the conference tournament and get into a regional,” said DeLaite, who was also a standout hockey player at Bangor.