Casey Mulholland walked into USF coach Lelo Prado’s office after allowing seven runs in his first 6 2/3 innings as a Bull.
“Don’t give up on me,” Prado recalled Mulholland saying to him.
“I felt frustrated just knowing I was under-achieving,” Mulholland said. “(Prado) reassured me the coaches were going to stand by me.”
“You can’t give up on an arm like that,” Prado said. “He’s got every tool to be a great college pitcher. I told him, ‘You came here to be a weekend guy for us.'”
Mulholland said he’s found a home at USF, his third school in three years of college. His unexpected journey began as a senior at IMG Academy in Bradenton – a preparatory school for
athletes – when he felt his
UCL pop during a tournament
Aware of what happened, he threw a few more pitches and gave up a grand slam, which ultimately dropped his record to 37-1.
About two weeks later, Mulholland had Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala.
He was in physical rehabilitation for a year, surrounded by support from his family in Bradenton. Once healed, he traveled to Ole Miss, which turned out to be a totally different ballpark compared to IMG.
“I wasn’t used to handling guys that were as good as me or better,” Mulholland said. “I had a lot to learn, and I was thankful for the opportunity at Ole Miss.”
Mulholland said he enjoyed his time in Oxford, where he posted a 0-2 record with a 4.22 ERA, four strikeouts and a walk through 10 2/3 innings of relief, but it wasn’t the right fit for him.
“I wanted to come back home,” he said.
Returning to Bradenton, Mulholland transferred to the State College of Florida, where he fared better with a 2.94 ERA and a 3-0 record, striking out 52 through just as many innings.
He got back to where he wanted to be as far as pitching and starting before transferring to USF this season.
Mulholland was recruited by USF pitching coach Lance Carter, who he met while playing at IMG – where Carter was in physical therapy for a torn labrum.
“Lance’s recruiting phone call to me was a bit different than most phone calls because he coached me a little at IMG,” Mulholland said. “Most coaches are probably going to tell you, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you. This would be a great place for you.’ Lance called me and goes, ‘Hey, you need to come here.'”
Mulholland said he identified with many of Carter’s battles that have come with baseball.
“(Carter) has been through a lot too in terms of injuries and things like that,” Mulholland said. “With his knowledge of the game and what I’ve been through, (USF) is definitely the right fit for me, hands down.”
With the help of Carter, who worked with Mulholland on mechanics in his lower half, Mulholland settled in.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander was named AAC Pitcher of the Week on March 10 after blanking Northwestern through 8 innings, leading the Bulls to a 7-0 victory. In his arsenal he sports a curveball, changeup, four-seam and two-seam fastball.
The next week, he was named to the AAC Honor Roll after tossing 101 pitches for a complete game, holding Rhode Island to just one earned run in the 5-1 win.
“I’m glad he’s here,” Carter said. “Hopefully I can help him mature as a pitcher and as a person, so if he gets that opportunity (to play in the pros) at the end of this year or next year, he’s ready for it.”
Mulholland’s experiences have matured him a lot already, but he dreams of playing in the big leagues.
“It’s been a long road,” Mulholland said. “I definitely have grown up and learned a lot through the whole situation. You take things as they come, and you take things day-by-day. My goal is to play major league baseball one day. I’ve never given up on that dream, and I’m not going to anytime soon.”
The Rays fan, who was born in St. Petersburg before moving to Bradenton at age 6, never expected to play college ball at USF, but he appreciates the opportunities that have presented themselves.
“It’s amazing the path that life takes you down,” Mulholland said. “At the end of the day, I’m very blessed to continue to play baseball day in and day out. I’m very appreciative to come out here and do what I love.”
The Bulls play tonight against No. 30 FIU at 6 in the USF Baseball Stadium.