The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology name speaks for itself.
It's a world-class engineering school that serves up some of the top young professionals in their field, and demands a high level of devotion to coursework in order to succeed at the Terre Haute, Ind. campus. Effingham graduate Devin Mayfield has chosen to tackle that commitment, and then some. The standout pitcher recently committed to play baseball on top of his rigorous school schedule, joining coach Jeff Jenkins and the Fightin' Engineer program."It's what you play for," Mayfield said. "You've been playing since you were little, you want to keep going as long as you can. You do whatever it takes to do that."Free time may be at a minimum for Mayfield, balancing a heavy workload with a Division III baseball schedule.
But that's what drove him to Rose-Hulman. He was sold on the academics first, baseball was just a bonus."I kind of just wanted to go for the education," he said. "I didn't have a whole lot of recruiting. It was mainly an education choice. Then I decided I wanted to keep playing."When Mayfield told Hearts coach Chris Fleener he still had the baseball bug, the Effingham skipper took the lead and reached out to Jenkins."I think it was more (coach) Fleener than anything," Mayfield said. "He got a hold of him on his own. (Coach) Jenkins came down to visit the school, that sold me."Once the two had the chance to sit down and talk, Jenkins reassured his new recruit that academics would still come first. "A lot of it was how they carry out their activities, how they organize baseball around school," Mayfield said. "That's really important, they're not easy classes down there."But Rose-Hulman baseball is also important, and Jenkins was sure to stress that as well. At first glance, a DIII school in Indiana may not seem like a hotbed of major-league talent, but Fightin' Engineer pitcher Derek Eitel was drafted in the 17th round of the 2010 first-year player draft. He has since gone on to start for Triple-A Reno and currently is on Double-A Mobile's roster in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization."He said, 'Don't think this has to be the last step,'" Mayfield said. "It's not impossible, just because we're an education-based school."Mayfield has already proven adept at changing people's perceptions of him, leading the Hearts with a 1.35 ERA despite a less-than-imposing stature on the hill. "Having never been the biggest guy, I've always had to work to change things up with my form, try to add a little speed or mix up my speeds and add some movement," the 5-foot-9, 150-pound pitcher said. "It would be a lot easier if I was 6-4."Even without the "ideal" pitching size, Mayfield still boasted a 7-2 record for Effingham, striking out a team-high 46 batters in 57 innings. He also surrendered just 11 earned runs.Through his persistent work and desire to add to his game, he's now set to be a college pitcher on a program with established success. The Fightin' Engineers have reached the DIII playoffs five times under Jenkins, and Mayfield joins a recruiting class that will devote its efforts to getting Rose-Hulman back to the postseason, a place they haven't been since 2010."Baseball is what I've done since I was four years old," Mayfield said. "I don't know anything but baseball."Well, baseball and engineering. For Mayfield, they seem to go hand in hand.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com