Grain Valley graduate Max Chapman earns another shot at D-I baseball

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Max Chapman, a Grain Valley graduate, pitched for Building Champions in the Ban Johnson League this summer. Chapman recently signed with Division I North Carolina-Charlotte as he heads into his final junior college season with Johnson County Community College.

A fall baseball game in Joplin helped turn Max Chapman into a Division I pitcher again. 

The Johnson County Community College sophomore recently signed with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte after a solid fall campaign for the Cavaliers. 

This will be the second time for Chapman to land at a D-I school after signing with Wichita State out of Grain Valley. 

“Out of high school it was a lot more confusing. In a way I didn’t know what I wanted,” said Chapman, a left-handed hurler. “This time around I was a lot more precise on what I wanted and I knew what questions to ask. I won’t say it was more enjoyable, but it was more relaxed. 

“The ultimate goal was to go back to a D-I but I wanted a place I would fit in. I expected myself to go back to D-I. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but it was a blessing regardless.” 

He joined the 49ers over offers from South Carolina-Upstate and Radford. Picking Charlotte, which will transition from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, was an easy choice after visiting the campus. 

The recruiting process picked up a lot in August and September and his goal was to return to the D-I level. He pitched last fall for Wichita State but decided to transfer after the first semester closer home. 

He started seven games and pitched in relief in six others in his first year at Johnson County. Chapman was 4-2 with a save and a team-high 72 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings for the Cavaliers. He held opposing batters to a .229 average and had a 2.73 earned run average. That helped him earn first-team all-conference honors. 

This fall he has his fastball sitting between 88 and 90 mph and topping out at 92. 

“He's got good velocity for a left-hander and he can compete his tail off,” Johnson County coach Eric Horner said. “That is attractive to anyone in the country. We expected him to do good things. He worked from the bottom up and he never complained and never worried about competing. Every time he pitched, he earned more innings, and by the end, he was our No. 1 arm.” 

Chapman, who said he will major in exercise science, is expected to be the No. 1 or 2 starter in the lineup for the Cavaliers next spring in his final junior college season. He will likely get a start in the team’s season-opening series against Crowder College in February. Chapman could face off against former Grain Valley teammate Jacob Misiorowski, the Crowder sophomore who has signed with LSU. 

“We expected (Max) to start and give us good innings,” Horner said. “He keeps us in big games and pitch against the other team’s best arms.”