Happy to Be Home, Mullins Realizes Potential at STLCC
David Mullins thought he had everything he wanted in a college choice out of high school.
The 22-year-old left-handed pitcher graduated from DeSmet High School and pursued his collegiate baseball career at Coastal Carolina University, an NCAA Division I program. As a quality hurler from a tradition-rich high school program, the move to the top level of collegiate baseball seemed like the natural transition, and a long-held dream realized.
However, it wasn’t long before the glamour of Division I baseball was overridden by frustration with a program that, in Mullins’ view, did not maximize his value or potential.
“Coming from a Division I program, I wouldn’t call the practices (at Coastal Carolina) pointless, but there was just a lot of stuff that just didn’t have a lot to do with me, pitching-wise,” Mullins said. “(Here), you just do your stuff and get out of there, and that helps me focus on the things I need to get done, instead of shagging (batting practice) for an hour and all those other things that don’t really help you baseball-wise.”
Good to Be Back Home
The experience at Coastal Carolina soured Mullins enough that he sat out a year of baseball before returning home and contacting the St. Louis Community College coaching staff. During his year off, Mullins at times wondered if he would ever regain the chance to appear on the mound in a college game.
“I wasn’t going to go for anything that wasn’t a sure thing,” Mullins said. “I had tried applying to a few schools, and they wanted me to apply to the school, try to get in and try out. I went to Coastal Carolina as a walk-on, hoping my mentality and my stuff would get me through. Obviously, that wasn’t the case.”
During his season away from the game, watching a different hometown team achieve success on the field renewed Mullins’ desire to find his way back to the mound.
“Spending three months away from the game, and watching the Cardinals win that miraculous championship (in 2011) just made me realize, ‘Wow, I need to get back to this game.’”
Soon after, Mullins contacted Archers head coach Tony Dattoli, who, along with his assistants, remembered Mullins from his days at DeSmet. After a private workout, Dattoli saw the pitcher he hoped he would.
“Coach Dattoli was straight-up with me,” Mullins said. “He said, ‘we want you and we’d love to have you.’ There was no way I could say no. I feel really comfortable here, and the coaches here have made sure that was possible for me.”
In His Comfort Zone
That level of comfort, as well as the increased role Mullins has had among his fellow pitchers at STLCC, has had clear early benefits for Mullins and the team as a whole.
Entering this weekend (March 30-31), Mullins led the Archers in starts (5), innings (25) and wins (2). He also has posted a superb 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Dattoli is pleased not only with Mullins’ on-field performance, but also how his ace has applied himself off the field.
“He’s got a nice little regiment getting himself mentally prepared,” Dattoli said. “Physically, he takes his time getting warmed up and uses his time efficiently. The other thing is with his work ethic – we don’t have to tell him twice. He knows the routine we want done before the game and after the game. He leads by example.”
While his initial dream of playing Division I baseball may have derailed along the line, Mullins is able to reflect positively on where his baseball journey has taken him today.
“I had high hopes coming out of high school, and I guess I let my head get a little big,” Mullins said. “I wanted to go to a D-I (school) and have that under my name, but I’m very happy where I am right now. Being a leader on this staff is something I take pride in, and I don’t take it lightly whatsoever.”