Local boys doing good as Bulldogs host Tigers tonight

BYRD BAT: Senior designated hitter Steele Netterville, a Byrd High alumnus, swings a big stick for Louisiana Tech.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

Five years ago, the Louisiana Tech baseball had exactly zero players from Shreveport-Bossier on its roster. In fact, there were very few players from the state of Louisiana.

When the Bulldogs meet LSU tonight at 6 o’clock at J.C. Love Field in Ruston, there will be 13 Louisiana natives on the Tech squad – including five from Shreveport-Bossier. Seniors Steele Netterville and Jonathan Fincher, along with West Monroe’s Taylor Young, are the cornerstones of the 2022 Tech team.

“I’m not trying to be dramatic and overstate this, but when those three guys decided to play baseball here, our program changed,” Tech coach Lane Burroughs said.

The three were named Bulldog Men earlier this year, which makes them team captains for life in Tech baseball.

“That’s what’s great about coaching; you get these guys who come in here as freshmen and they are essentially boys,” Burroughs said. “They are as green as monkey grass. And when they leave, they are full grown men. The relationship changes from player-coach to friends. Those three are more like peers now.”

Here’s a look at the five local products on the Bulldog roster – with comments from Burroughs.

STEELE NETTERVILLE (DH, Sr., Byrd) – “Just tremendous strength and somebody who can drive the ball. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow into a leader on our team and even in the community. He’s just meant so much to us on and off the field. The numbers speak for themselves. He could be in the middle of his first year in medical school and instead he came back to try to help this team try to get to Omaha.”

JONATHAN FINCHER (LHP, R-Jr., Byrd) – “He came over here looking like an offensive lineman and we redshirted him. He needed to re-shape his body and to be honest, I didn’t know if he was going to make it at this level. He absolutely attacks the strike zone with his fastball. He gets a lot of swings-and-misses with his fastball. He sits at about 88 (miles per hour) but it looks 93. He plays up because of his spin rate. Some guys can just do that with their spin rate and he’s one of them. It’s a gift.”

RIGGS EASTERLING (INF, Soph., Loyola) – “His Fall was just OK and I think he was worried about making the team (as a transfer from Mississippi Delta CC) but he’s been really good this Spring. I’m excited about him. I won’t hesitate to put him in if we have an injury or need to pinch run.”

SLADE NETTERVILLE (INF, Fr., Byrd) – “He has improved so much. He’s a tremendous defender at third base. He’s been swinging the bat really good lately. He probably went from being a guy who was a 100 percent redshirt to someone I told the other day needs to be prepared. If we have to make moves in the middle of the game, he might be in there. We won’t hesitate to put him out there if we have to.”

JACK WALKER (OF, Fr., Byrd) – “You know what I love about him? You would never know his dad was a major leaguer and maybe one of the best to ever play college baseball. I’d be willing to bet you half of our team doesn’t know his dad is Todd Walker. He works extremely hard and comes to the ballpark every day to work. He has a really good swing and has turned himself into a really good outfielder. He’s a joy to be around. He never has a bad day.”

Photo by TIM SMITH/Louisiana Tech

BIG LEFTY: Junior Jonathan Fincher, another Byrd product, anchors the Bulldogs’ pitching staff. (Photo by SADIE PATTON/Louisiana Tech).