Switching positions in sports is not always the easiest thing to do.
An individual switching the way he or she plays a sport is even more difficult.
Butler junior pitcher Chase Byerly has done the latter for the baseball team this season by changing his throwing motion.
During Byerly’s freshman season, Butler coach Steve Farley asked him to switch from his traditional overhand pitching style to the “submarine” style.
This style of throwing has a pitcher drop his arm and release the ball underhand and just above the ground.
“That just opened up a lot of doors for me and gave me some good opportunities to come in and make an impact right away as a freshman,” Byerly said.
Byerly has handled both the switch in mechanics and the pressure-packed role of closer well with the Bulldogs.
This was put on display when he broke two Butler saves records this year.
Byerly broke the school’s previous single-season record of eight earlier this month with his ninth save of the season in a win against Ball State on April 10.
He also surpassed the previous Butler career-high saves record of 12 and currently sits at 13.
With this unique pitching style, Byerly said he pitches for contact and relies on his infielders to make the plays.
“This submarine-style delivery causes batters to hit a lot of ground balls,” Farley said. “Chase throws a lot of strikes, and he is very tough to hit.”
Byerly said he traded velocity for movement with his new delivery. In high school, he said he used to overpower hitters and record many strikeouts, but now he pitches for contact.
His opponents have a .280 batting average against him, and he has not allowed any home runs.
Byerly said the change initially took a toll on his elbow and hips, but he was able to adjust to it.
“It’s been really effective,” Byerly said, “and I’ve been really thankful and grateful to coach Farley for giving me that chance.”
Last summer, Byerly played for the Sliders, a Prospect League team out of Slippery Rock, Pa. He won the relief pitcher of the year award in the league.
“That’s really where my closing development kind of picked up,” Byerly said.
Byerly was teammates with Butler junior catcher Radley Haddad in the league, and he said it was important in developing their relationship at the collegiate level.
“I need to be a little more focused, because the ball is coming from a different place,” Byerly said.
Byerly and Haddad were roommates while playing for the Sliders, and Haddad said they “literally spent every hour of the summer together.”
Haddad calls Byerly “not your typical closer,” because he doesn’t throw hard and over the top, making him much more difficult for opponents to get a hit off of.
“Not only is it physically tough to hit that pitch, but it’s mentally tough too,” Haddad said.
Byerly will look to add to his climbing saves total during the remainder of the Bulldogs’ eight-game road trip.
He will get his first shot at grabbing his 14th career save against the University of Indianapolis today.
“I’m really proud of him,” Haddad said of Byerly holding the saves record. “It couldn’t have happened to a better dude.”