WATCH: Gunner Leger On Ragin’ Cajuns 2017 Season
Gunner Leger pitched like an ace in his first year in Lafayette. He's entering his junior season for the Ragin' Cajuns, and he's leading Louisiana into 2017.
Even when Leger was an underclassman, he still acted like a leader on the team. As the Friday starter, he set the tone on the mound, and he's trying to set an example for the rest of the roster every day.
Some leaders do so vocally, but Leger's quiet intensity at practice and performances during games do all the talking for him.
"You speak when you need to speak, but when you speak too much people stop listening, so I try to lead by example every day," Leger explained. "I show up, get my work in...you push everybody. I don't think there's one specific way. We have plenty of leaders on this team, and they all lead in different ways."
With the results Leger gets on the mound, he's a good example to follow. If the young pitchers on the staff prepare like he does, they should taste some success this season.
When it comes to the pitching staff, Leger is one of many talented arms. The staff is deep, versatile and dangerous. Household names like Dylan Moore, Nick Lee, Wyatt Marks and Evan Guillory are expected to produce like they always do, but Leger thinks there are going to be some new breakout performers.
"I think some of these redshirt guys are going to pitch really well for us this year. Jack Burk, Jacob Norman and a handful of other guys. We're going to run them out there early," Leger said, echoing what Head Coach Tony Robichaux said in one of his press conferences. "We got a lot of guys, a lot of good arms. We just have to stay healthy, that's the key."
Heading into the 2017 season, Leger's personal goal is simple: put his team in position to win games. He was a lot more specific when he talked about the team goals though.
With such a loaded pitching staff, expectations are sky high for Louisiana this season. Outsiders would say there is pressure on the team to live up to those lofty expectations, but Leger thinks this team truly has a chance to do something special.
Some players don't even want to look too far down the road out of fear of tripping, but Leger laid the main goal right on the line.
"We're trying to achieve something only one other team has done here. We're trying to get to Omaha, not only go but win," Leger stated confidently. "I think Coastal Carolina opened some peoples eyes that in baseball, when you get hot it doesn't matter what it says on your jersey."
Coastal Carolina's College World Series win made a lot of teams in the country say, "Why not us?" Leger clearly thinks Louisiana could be the next team in line to open some eyes.
The Ragin' Cajuns definitely learned how to weather storms in the offseason, thanks to the ongoing construction of Russo Park. As you can hear in the interview, there is constant chaos going on around the team at practice, but they learned how to tune it out.
Leger thinks the banging and clanging of the construction trained them how to deal with hostile environments. They start off with a ton of games on the road, so their ability to block out distractions could go a long way.
"In the middle of the game, there's no telling what somebody is going to tell you. Some of these fans are pretty ruthless," Leger pointed out. "What Coach Robe always says, he wishes he could pay people to come to our practices and yell at us to get us ready for the game, so I think he got his noise."
Make sure to watch the full 1-on-1 interview above to find out who else is leading the team into the 2017 season, how he is getting along with his new catcher and roommate Handsome Monica, and he has some fun at the end naming his favorite Robe-ism.