Playing baseball at Polk State College for two years spelled success for former Eagle Kyle Chastain.
Chastain, 21, is a junior at Embry Riddle University where he is the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter on a team that won the Sun Conference title for the 19th time in 20 years.
His new team competes in the first round of the NAIA National Championships May 9-13 in Daytona.
Chastain has been a big contributor to the team's title chase.
He leads the Embry Riddle Eagles with 43 runs scored in 58 games, and he leads the Eagles in stolen bases — going 30-for-31 in that category.
The Homeland Security major from Auburndale credits his former Polk coaches for helping him find success at the next stop of his career.
"What I took from Polk was that winning mindset," Chastain said. "It's the mentality and the day-by-day approach that I took from Polk," he said. "Plus, we have a great group of guys here and it's basically the same coaching — they like to win."
Chastain played right field for Polk and hit fifth or sixth in the lineup.
At Embry Riddle, he moved to centerfield and is batting leadoff — taking him out of his familiar comfort zone on the field and at the plate.
He has called Polk State College coach Al Corbeil and Collin Martin often for advice.
"Al gave me some pointers," Chastain said. "I talk to him twice a week or more."
"He's had a great relationship with all our coaches," Corbeil said. "We were fortunate to have him. He grew a lot as a person and got a lot more confidence when he was here. He's a great kid and his athleticism is going to take him a long way."
Despite his natural talent, Chastain admitted he had been struggling at the plate until the end of the regular season.
But somehow, he got hot at the right time.
"I don't really know what happened," he said. "I flushed it out and started from scratch. It was a new beginning. I basically just threw everything away."
Chastain went back to the basics and found his stroke.
He won the Sun Conference Player of the Week award for the week of April 29th.
He tallied five hits, three for extra bases, in two games. He also knocked in three runs and stole three bases.
Chastain enjoyed an incredible run with Embry Riddle in the Sun Conference Tournament.
The Eagles lost their first game of the six-team event in Fort Myers and came through the loser's bracket to win it all.
They captured five games in a row, three on the tournament's final day, to earn their fifth tournament title.
Embry Riddle had to defeat the University of South Carolina Beaufort Sand Sharks twice to win it all.
The Eagles won the first meeting, 5-0. Chastain contributed one hit, a run and an RBI.
Embry Riddle claimed the title with a 2-1 victory while Chastain went 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored.
Chastain loves his new home and hopes his new Eagles take him to his second consecutive World Series.
"It's been great so far," he said.