Louisiana's Logan Stoelke Emerges As Closer
Logan Stoelke pitched sparingly in his first three seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, throwing 16.1 innings over 13 career appearances. He saw most of his action last season as an outfielder, appearing in 42 games, primarily as a defensive replacement.
This season, however, Stoelke has quickly become one of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ most important pitchers. Louisiana’s staff has been thinned this spring by injuries, so when the team returned from winter break, coach Tony Robichaux had Stoelke focus solely on pitching for the first time in his career.
Stoelke changed his weight training from a hitters’ work to a plan for a pitcher – “They all hate that,” Robichaux said. “They want to be big. They want to get hard and go yard.” – and his body began to change as a result. Listed at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, the senior is a good athlete and is now better suited to the rigors of pitching.
“It’s leaned him up and loosened him up,” Robichaux said. “He’s got some good stuff out there.”
Stoelke has showed that stuff early this season. He has saved all four of Louisiana’s victories this spring, including a 3-0 win against No. 18 Vanderbilt on Saturday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston. In the process, he has also raised his profile as a draft prospect and could become the latest in an impressive line of Ragin' Cajuns' relievers.
Stoelke has yet to allow a hit in 6.2 scoreless innings this season. He has held opponents to three walks and struck out seven batters. He throws four pitches, but mostly relies on a four-seam fastball that sits 90-93 mph and touches 95 mph with so much movement that Pitch f/x at Minute Maid Park was often identifying it as a cutter.
Stoelke said he relishes the closer’s role and the opportunity to close out a big victory. He had that oppportunity Saturday against the Commodores, throwing two innings on the big stage of Minute Maid Park.
“It’s a great crowd, all our people come out to watch,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Though Stoelke made just one appearance on the mound last season – a scoreless inning against Southeastern Louisiana in March – he said he didn’t have to do much to get ready to spend more time on the mound this spring. He continued to throw bullpens throughout last season, helping to keep him sharp on the mound. That work continued into the fall and has paid off this spring.
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In an atmosphere befitting a series of that magnitude, the Longhorns claimed game 1 with a tight, 5-4 victory.
“Even at the end of the season last year, I was still throwing in the pen,” Stoelke said. “It was pretty much just getting into the pen more. I’ve been working on it all fall and moving forward into this year.”
Louisiana has needed Stoelke to step up this season. Ace Gunner Leger is out for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lefthander Hogan Harris has missed the last two weekends due to an oblique strain. The Ragin’ Cajuns offense has also struggled against a tough early-season slate and is hitting .173/.254/.254 through 10 games.
But, through it all, Louisiana has been able to rely on Stoelke. If they can get the ball to him with a lead, the Ragin’ Cajuns can feel good about his ability to shut the door.
“He’s got a good mix and he can attack the strike zone,” Robichaux said. “That’s been a big plus for us. It really has helped the back of the bullpen.”