By Barbara Boxleitner
Daily Light correspondent
Pitcher Caleb Bly returned to form this spring.
Fully recovered from a fall 2018 elbow arthroscopy, the Ovilla Christian School graduate posted impressive numbers for the Oklahoma Baptist University baseball team.
The redshirt junior had a 4-0 record, tying for the team lead in wins, and 3.68 earned run average in six games. He tied for the team lead with one save.
"I worked much harder in the fall," the 6-foot-3 Bly said. "I found it in myself to get my confidence back and reset."
He said he was not permitted to train for two weeks after the 2018 medical procedure and was not allowed to throw for about two months. Though he pitched during the 2019 spring, he finished with a 3-4 record, two saves and 6.75 ERA in 20 appearances.
Those results were disappointing after his 7-2 record, one save and 3.92 ERA in a team-high 21 outings as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He performed so well that he earned the start in the first game of the Division II Central Region tournament.
Oklahoma Baptist associate head coach Cody Painter said Bly was determined to redeem himself after the 2019 season. He cited the biggest reasons for his return to success as "determination, work ethic and ability to change speeds in the bottom half of the zone with the changeup and slider."
He was especially effective in throwing first-pitch strikes and in walking fewer batters, the coach said.
The right-hander said he improved his mechanics to avoid "dragging my arm so much to release the pitch." That adjustment, which he said would prevent shoulder and elbow stress, resulted in a more repeatable delivery.
"I felt way better," Bly said. "I felt I could throw three pitches in the zone."
He tweaked the delivery of his fastball as well. "It looked like it had a little more life instead of being a straight four-seam," he said. "I pounded the zone with my fastball early, which is something I couldn't do last year."
His fastball topped at 86 mph, Painter said, and his changeup became a "feature pitch."
At 8 to 10 mph slower than the fastball, the changeup "has a lot of depth," the coach said. "It dives out of the zone. The success with the changeup gave him the ability to miss with the fastball."
Bly has been throwing six days a week and is hopeful he will be able to pitch in a summer collegiate league if sports resume by then. He threw just 29 1/3 innings, second on the squad, this spring.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at email@example.com.