FARMINGTON — The best thing to happen to Chase Malloy’s college baseball career last season is exactly what happened. A whole lot of nothing.

As a freshman last season at the University of Maine at Farmington, Malloy saw action in nine games. The Madison native had two at bats. On the mound, Malloy pitched 9 2/3 innings. Mostly, Malloy practiced, watched, and learned, so when the opportunity to play every day came, he’d be prepared.

“I think last year was important for me,” Malloy, now a sophomore and the Beavers’ third baseman, said. “Even to Division III baseball, from high school is a pretty big jump. The game is played at a higher intensity. Everyone knows what they’re doing.”

Eleven games into the season, Malloy is hitting .313, with five runs scored, five runs batted in, and a team-high five stolen bases in six tries. Malloy’s one caught stealing came last weekend at Husson, when he was tagged out after over-sliding second base.

UMF (4-7) is scheduled to take on North Atlantic Conference rival Castleton this weekend at Bridgton Academy.

“It was good for Chase to see how things are done,” UMF coach Chris Bessey said of Malloy’s freshman season. “For a lot of younger players, everything moves very fast.”

Malloy started the season well, with a pair of hits, a run, and three RBI in an 11-10 win over Crown College on March 12, in the second game of the Beavers’ season-opening Florida trip. He followed that with a pair of hits and a run in a 5-3 win over Cazenovia. Malloy ended UMF’s Florida trip going 4 for 7 with three runs scored and two RBI in a double header split with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Malloy played last summer for the Skowhegan American Legion team. When the Beavers began practicing for this season, he felt ready to contribute.

“I knew I would have an opportunity if I worked hard,” Malloy said. “I felt confident I could do well.”

Even when he went through a short run of hitless games against Husson and St. Joseph’s, Malloy still made good contact with the ball. So far this season, Bessey has kept Malloy near the bottom of the lineup.

“You can see he’s a lot more confident. He’s not second guessing himself,” Bessey said. “It’s good for us to have that type of hitter near the bottom of the order.”

At 6-foot-3, Malloy is one of the tallest players on UMF’s roster. Bessey and the coaching staff are working to get Malloy to use that size as an advantage. When he swings, Malloy tends to bend at the waist, making himself smaller. Bessey wants him to stay taller and drive the ball.

“He’s still got a lot of room to improve there,” Bessey said.

A former shortstop, Malloy transitioned to third base easily. In 10 games, he has just one error.

“You have time for one or two steps at most,” Malloy said of playing third base. “At shortstop, you have more time to make a play on the ball.”

So far this season, Malloy has pitched one inning, in relief against Cazenovia on March 13. That also was the only game in which Malloy was not the Beavers’ starting third baseman. With Malloy needed in the lineup, Bessey said it’s likely he’ll be used sparingly on the mound the rest of the season.

“I’ll probably get a few innings here or there,” Malloy said.

Last season, the Beavers struggled, going 5-19 in conference play. With mostly NAC games remaining on the schedule, Malloy said the goal is to get back to the conference tournament. UMF split a pair of NAC games with Husson in their only conference contests so far.

“I definitely think we have a chance to make the playoffs. In the few conference games we’ve had, we’ve shown we can compete,” Malloy said.

Bessey expects Malloy to continue to improve.

“He’s just a smart kid, and he’s so coachable,” Bessey said. “He’s going to keep getting better.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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