2009 Southeastern Louisiana University Baseball Team: Catching

Sophomore Josh Cryer heads up a deep group behind the plate
Sophomore Josh Cryer heads up a deep group behind the plate

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

HAMMOND – According to head coach #Jay Artigues#, last year’s Southeastern Louisiana University baseball team had a strong leader on the roster in the form of catcher Matthew Schexnayder. Schexnayder’s graduation following the 2008 campaign left a vacuum in that crucial role, but, also according to Artigues, this year’s group of backstops is more than ready to step in.

“We got really good leadership out of that position the last couple of years,” Artigues said. “That’s the thing you want from your catchers. You want a guy that is going to lead your team defensively and make your pitchers better. Fortunately, we still have that this year.”

Less than a month removed from Opening Day 2009, a quartet of Lion catchers are jockeying for playing time behind the plate.

Sophomore #Josh Cryer# returns to the Lions after an impressive freshman season. The Leesville, La. native excelled in 2008, hitting .318 with a home run and 23 RBI, despite playing just 43 games and missing nearly three weeks after injuring his knee against Tulane on March 25. Cryer saw time in right field, first base and catcher, recording just one error in 287 total chances.

The Leesville High School product also showed a knack for getting on base, recording a team-high .429 on-base percentage and getting hit by a pitch 19 times (the 24th highest mark in the country).

With his knee back to full strength, Cryer has impressed the Lion coaching staff offensively and defensively.

Sophomore #Doran Drummond# returns to the Lions after limited action in 2008. The Baton Rouge native and Parkview Baptist product has proven adept behind the plate and offers a solid defensive presence for the Lion coaching staff.

In addition to a pair of reliable returnees, the Lions will work a pair of newcomers into the mix behind home plate.

Freshman #Torin Lucas#, the son of Lion head football coach Mike Lucas, joins Southeastern after a standout high school career at Ponchatoula High School in Ponchatoula, La. The 6-2, 210 catcher has impressed the Lion coaching staff in his first preseason camp, and has the potential to earn a role early in the season.

Rounding out the Lion catching corps is junior #Kelly Weems#. A 6-3, 189 pound transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Weems has put together some impressive practices and has established himself as one of the team’s better receivers behind the plate.

“Playing five nights a week, it’s important to have two to three catchers that you can run out there every night,” Artigues said. “We’re fortunate that we have four guys we’re confident in so we don’t have to wear anyone out over the course of the season.”

With one of their deepest recruiting classes in years and a completely rebuilt starting rotation, the Lions will count on these four to lead the way behind the plate starting Feb. 20 against Eastern Illinois.

The Returners:

#Josh Cryer#- So. – 5-19 – 202 – Leesville, La./Leesville HS

Jay Artigues Says: “Right now, heading into the season, Josh is our number one catcher. He was catching last year and doing a good job until he hurt his knee. He’s rehabbed his knee to the point where now he can get back there and do the bulk of the catching. He’s a tremendous leader, even though he’s only a sophomore. He’s probably one of the best leaders I’ve ever coached. He’s solid defensively, he can throw the ball well and he can really swing the bat well. It’s hard to find a Southland Conference catcher who is strong defensively and offensively and Josh is that guy. He’s the guy who can hit .300 and do a good job behind the plate receiving and bloc

#Doran Drummond# – Jr. – LHP – 6-2 – 166 – Baton Rouge, La./Parkview Baptist HS

Jay Artigues Says: “Doran is very solid defensively. He can really catch and throw the ball. Defense is definitely his specialty. He didn’t play a whole lot last season as a freshman, but he gives us a lot of depth behind the plate.”

The Newcomers:

#Torin Lucas# – Jr. – 6-2 – 210 – Ponchatoula, La./Ponchatoula HS

Jay Artigues Says: “He’s really come on strong and made some big strides since the fall. He’s extremely hard working and very coachable. He’s progressing at an accelerated rate, which is what we want to see. He’s going to get plenty of time behind the plate. He’s solid defensively, he throws the ball well and he’s been working on his receiving and blocking. He may be the best throwing catcher we have and he’s making strides offensively as well. We like his defensive ability behind the plate and because of that he’s going to have a chance to play early on.”

#Kelly Weems# – Jr. – 6-3 – 189 – Long Beach, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

Jay Artigues Says: “Kelly gives us a lot of depth behind the plate. He receives the ball well, he blocks the ball well. He’s working on his throwing because he’s coming off ‘Tommy John’ surgery. So he’s had some injury problems, but he’s back to 100 percent. Now he just has to get comfortable enough to be confident to really let it go behind the plate, because when he does he’s as good a thrower as you are going to find. He’ll do a great job for us behind the plate.”