POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — A real chance to make a lasting first impression.
Point Pleasant senior Levi Chapman will be continuing his baseball career after signing with Mary Baldwin University on Sunday, March 17, 2019, during a ceremony held at the PPHS library in Mason County.
Chapman was a four-year varsity letterwinner with the Big Blacks, serving primarily as a pitcher during his time in a program that produced a pair of regional appearances at two different levels of postseason play.
Mitchell made a handful of appearances as a freshman during Point’s Class AAA regional qualifying run back in 2016, then had his workload pick up a bit more as a sophomore as PPHS returned to the double-A level.
It was Mitchell’s junior campaign, however, that things started to showing real promise, albeit on a team that struggled through an 11-13 season.
Mitchell made five starts and nine appearances in 2018, which led to 15 strikeouts, 15 walks and just as many earned runs over 18 innings on the mound.
Mitchell improved those numbers again this past spring, churning out 22 strikeouts while allowing only 13 walks and 13 earned runs in 11 appearances and 31 innings of work. Mitchell also posted a career low earned run average of 2.94 in 2019.
Mitchell acknowledged that he did play with more confidence this past season knowing that he had four more years of ahead of him as a Fighting Squirrel.
Still, Mitchell believes that there is even more for him to accomplish on the diamond … and he is both humble and grateful to have the chance.
“First, I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do something like this. I’m basically starting a new chapter in my life and I’m ready to get after it, both athletically and academically,” Mitchell said. “It’s definitely going to be a different challenge, but it just means that I will have to work that much harder. I know it’s going to be a big change, but I’m still looking forward to making the most of the challenge.”
MBU is a Division III school at the NCAA level, but it has also served primarily as an all-girls school in the Staunton (Va.) area until going coed in the fall of 2018. The Fighting Squirrels will begin baseball this season as members of the USA South Athletic Conference.
It’s not a traditional road that Mitchell has chosen, but it does clearly provide an opportunity to be part of something memorable over the next four years. As Mitchell noted, it was actually one of the main draws to heading down to the Virginia-based school.
“Mary Baldwin had always previously been an all-girls school, but this year it opened up and became coed. I have a chance to be part of the first team at MBU … and that was a pretty big deal for me,” Mitchell said. “I know going in that it will be historic and I’m hoping to go in and make an impact, both immediately and over that four years of playing baseball.
“The other thing that drew me in was the campus. It’s relatively small and there ends up being about 11 students for every teacher, so that allows for a lot more interaction time with the faculty and with tutors. It just felt right from the time I started my visit.”
PPHS coach Andrew Blain believes that Mitchell has the work ethic and intangibles to become a solid collegiate player, but it will take four more years of tireless effort to make that dream a reality.
Blain, however, notes that it is a very similar road that Levi faced while at Point Pleasant — competing at the varsity level as a freshman while improving all the way through.
“He’s worked hard and he accepted his role early on that he would only be a pitcher for us. In doing so, he has developed himself into a competitive pitcher because he’s worked at his craft. He’s going to have a chance to be successful,” Blain said. “If he goes down there and continues to commit himself to baseball, get in the weight room and do the things they ask of him … I really believe he can do some good things there. There’s still a lot of development out there for him or any high school player going to play baseball at the collegiate level, but Levi has also worked himself into this opportunity.
“It’s a good day for Levi and his family. He’s going to have a chance to fulfill a dream. It’s also a good day for the program to be able to send another player on to the college level.”
Mitchell is excited to get started, but he also feels prepared for this next challenge because of the people he’s been involved with over the past few years. As he noted, being a member of the Point baseball program is one of the best things that has happened to him along the journey.
“Honestly, I feel prepared because of the family nature that we have here at Point Pleasant. I’ve had supportive parents, great teammates and really good coaches along the way,” Mitchell said. “I have been part of the varsity program since my freshman year, when we were at the triple-A level. I’ve faced a lot of quality players and teams over that span, so I definitely feel that Point Pleasant has prepared for the next level.”
Mitchell carries a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in Athletic Training.
Levi is the son of Doug and Summer Mitchell of Point Pleasant.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.