LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - What’s in a pitch?
For Barbe senior pitcher Jack Walker, it’s confidence.
“I have to stay humble, but I think when I have my stuff, I can compete with just about anybody in the state,” Walker admitted. “When I’m out there I have to think I’m the best in the world. This team isn’t better than me. I’m just going to compete and try my best to get as many guys out and keep us in the game.”
And he does. According to Prep Baseball Report, Walker is the state’s top pitcher for the Class of 2021.
Using his 92 miles-per-hour two-seam fastball to overpower lineups.
“Most kids don’t have a two-seamer. He’ll run that thing in and then he has a true slider and curve. Most people have one or the other and most people don’t have even one as good as he has,” said Barbe coach Glenn Cecchini. “He has two-plus exceptional pitches.”
And all three were on display in the last two starts against Sam Houston and Sulphur. Walker struck out 27 batters in those 14 innings.
“He always gets the toughest assignments and he’s won every game and he dominates every time out. He’s had one loss in his career at Barbe and he’s been pitching since his freshman year. The one loss he threw, was a one-hitter,” Cecchini said. “He’s special, and he is going to Mississippi State for a reason.”
Cecchini says Walker is as good as any Barbe pitcher he’s coached in his 35 years.
“As a right-hander, he’s as dominating as any guy we have ever had. He is absolutely dominant. Every game out it’s a one or two-hitter. They don’t hit off him,” said Cecchini. “They hit way less than .100, I think they’re hitting .040 off him.”
But Walker’s success didn’t come without hurdles.
“It was depressing at first,” Walker said, “the night I tore it I was upset.”
Coming off a state championship in 2019, Walker suffered an injury in July.
“And then I had surgery and when I came out of my splint, everything was going well and after that, I just looked at it as a blessing,” Walker admitted. “I got a whole year to retrain my arm and learn more about my body and my throwing to be able to come out my senior year and throw better.”
Walker admits the Tommy John surgery, as it often does, made his arm stronger.
That paired with a positive attitude has helped Walker make the most of his second chance.
“I always tell him, ‘Jack, make us happy.’ I call him happy Jack Walker because he is always smiling,” said Cecchini. “That’s part of his success because of his demeanor.”
Walker said repeating as state champions remains the goal.
“That’s all I thought about the whole process just going to rehab and that’s what kept me going through it because it was a grind, and it was tough,” Walker admitted. “I just thought about my senior year and how I’m going to go out and leave everything on the field.”