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Dudley closing out record-breaking season

April 26, 2012

 

Junior pitcher Caleb Dudley is breaking records while making a name for himself on the diamond.–Photo courtesy of Media Relations

DEREK J. AMAYA
Sports Reporter

 

It is the bottom of the ninth under the Friday night lights and Tech is three outs away from winning the game.

 

Head coach Wade Simoneaux signals for his closer to come in and save the game. With fierce intimidation, junior closer Caleb Dudley enters the game.

 

Pitching coach Brian Rountree discovered the Texarkana, Texas, native when he was playing in New Iberia for his high school team.

 

“I got to see Caleb play for the first time while he was playing in a tournament there,” Rountree said. “Back then he played shortstop, and then I saw him come in and pitch. I said, ‘Man! This kid’s got a good arm; he’s really athletic and could fulfill this position. This guy’s future in college is going to be on the mound.’”

 

Dudley’s parents and uncle set him up to play T-ball when he was 4 years old. Baseball became his passion and he chose to continue with his career at Tech.

 

“I signed with a junior college out of high school,” Dudley said. “Coach Rountree started to recruit me. I came up and visited here and fell in love with the coaching staff and school.”

 

Dudley has gone on to make a name for himself in the record books. His career earned run average is 4.56. He broke his previous record from last year with 12 saves in a single season and broke the career saves record with 20 and plenty of baseball left to be played. He is third in appearances with 74. When he’s made an appearance, Tech’s record is 45-32. Last year he set the single season record with 32 appearances. He also has made 21 appearances so far this season without it being over.

 

“It feels good,” he said. “You kind of feel in a sense that you’re leaving your mark. You always want to make an impact on a team and school. I’m proud to be in the position I am in.”

 

Rountree said it is exciting for Dudley and the guys on the team and said it is not a big surprise he achieved these goals.

 

“He works at what he does,” Rountree said. “He’s got the stuff to obviously do what he’s done. But at the same time, when you’re in a closing position like that, the game can be up and down. Whether you have a good game or bad game the night before, you have to wipe it clean and get to the next step. I think he is one of the best at doing so.”

 

Junior relief pitcher Dakota Doss, a transfer from Bossier Parish Community College, became friends with Dudley through baseball and eventually became duck hunting buddies. Dudley took Doss under his wing and has been mentoring him since he joined.

 

“He kind of is a silent leader,” Doss said. “He’s more of a goof-off actually. I’m proud of him. His records are a big thing for him.”

 

Head coach Wade Simoneaux knew he was getting talent when he recruited Dudley as a pitcher. Little did Simoneaux know Dudley would solidify his name in the record books.

 

“He deserves every record he’s broken,” Simoneaux said. “He’s a good kid in the classroom. He’s a good kid on and off the field. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s going to get a couple more opportunities here down the stretch.”

 

Dudley still has one more year of eligibility left and looks to continue to solidify his numbers. However, he has a nonchalant attitude about the records and just wants to finish his time as a Bulldog with a degree.

 

“I’d love to carry on a career in baseball,” Dudley said. “The odds of that happening are slim to none. It’s very rare. Plan A is to get my education and if baseball works out, it works out and I hope it does.”

 

He credits his teammates and coaches for helping him get the saves he’s accomplished. He says now having the pressure of being the closing pitcher does not faze him anymore and continues to play with confidence.

 

“After a few years you get used to it,” Dudley said. “There’s a lot of pressure in closing down games. You’ve got three outs to get to the end of the game. It’s nerve wrecking at times. But I love the pressure and adversity, and I think I strive in those situations.”

 

Dudley’s superstition is being clean cut before every game. He’s clean-shaven tonight and looks luckier than ever. The first batter is out at first. A fly ball goes to the second hitter. Dudley strikes out the last batter. Another save earned by the closer.

 

Email comments to dja014@latech.edu.

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