The Word: The Unsung Hero’s of the 2018 Cajuns Baseball Season
No season, no matter the sport, goes exactly how you plan it as a coach. Somewhere along the line you're going to endure an injury, ineffective play, or perhaps a player over achieving. The 2018 Ragin' Cajuns Baseball season didn't end up how we had hoped but along the way there were a handful of players who had step up, due to the circumstance, and did.
Kole McKinnon (Junior-Catcher):
A transfer from Allen Community College in Lola, Kansas was brought in to be the back-up and provide a blow every once in a while for senior starter Handsome Monica. Unfortunately, during the very first game of the year against Texas Monica suffered a knee injury he would not be able to recover from. In addition, he underwent Tommy John surgery that would end his season for good. Enter Kole McKinnon, who now had an opportunity that he probably couldn't have anticipated but with no time to think he was thrust into the waters of high-level D1 baseball. McKinnon wouldn't flourish with the bat this season as he routinely hit towards the bottom of the order and hit only .188 this year. However, his value would be felt in many different ways, mainly his work behind the plate. Now, you can't totally discount his offense because he was able to help in other ways, 28 runs scored, he hit four home runs, seven doubles, 19 RBI's, and even stole 6 bases! But, his ability to control the game from behind the plate and play every single inning, of every single game, with no back-up was impressive. Out of 509 chances he had behind the plate he committed only four errors and was able to nab a respectable 34% of attempted base stealers (18 of 53). Some say he was the MVP of this team and head coach Tony Robichaux gave him praise all season long.
Logan Stoelke (Senior-Relief Pitcher):
Coming into this season Logan Stoelke had pitched a total of 16.1 innings and kind of floated between playing some outfield last season as well. This year however, Logan doubled the amount of innings he had pitched over his first three years combined with 33.1 innings pitched. He also transformed himself into THE dominate arm at the back end of the bullpen. With Dylan Moore working through arm troubles this season Stoelke took the reins as the closer and notched 10 saves while pitching to a 2.97 ERA. In addition, the year he had earned him Second Team All Sun Belt Conference honors. When the team needed a pitcher to emerge out of their bullpen late in a game it was simply, Stoelke time.
Daniel Lahare (Junior-Outfielder):
A lot of teams will always have a player who outperforms his/her projections to play a major factor throughout a particular season. Most of the time they don't get their chances right away, they have to be patient and work while they wait, and it might also take an injury/ineffective play in order for the player to get their chance as well. This year for the Cajuns, that player was Daniel Lahare. A transfer from Delgado Community College, he had a terrible fall season, to the point he may have not even made the team. The coaching staff stuck with him but still, Lahare seeing playing time was not a given. It took ineffective play from some of the other outfielders for him to get a chance and when he did, he took off and ran with it. He started out towards the bottom of the order and eventually made his way to the top (cue the Drake). The passion and emotion that he wore on his sleeve whenever he took the field immediately made him a fan favorite. He ended up leading the team in hitting this year at a .321 clip, lead the team in runs scored (50), triples (4), and total bases (101); not to mention his stellar defense in center field (Cue the John Fogerty). The season he had landed him Second Team All Sun Belt Conference honors as well with Logan Stoelke.
Zach LaFleur (Senior-Outfielder):
Zach LaFleur was not the biggest, the tallest, the fastest, or the strongest but he did a lot of the little things right, just a solid player that would help his team win at all costs. LaFleur's numbers don't tell the story behind the value he brought to the program this season. He, much like Lahare, got an opportunity to play due to ineffective play/injuries and whatever the coaching staff asked him to do, he did it to the best of his abilities. If you needed a bunt to be put down, a sac-fly, a stolen base, or a timely hit or two Zach seemed to do it all. From talking with Associate Head Coach Anthony Babineaux about him, he stated the he was what being a Cajun was all about, a guy who worked his butt off for your program. To me, those type of players are mostly glossed over because their stats don't jump off the page but they're invaluable to a successful program. Zach LaFleur was an invaluable member of this 2018 Ragin' Cajuns Baseball squad.
Who were your unsung hero's for the 2018 Ragin' Cajuns Baseball season? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a message on any of my social media platforms-