By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports
Louisiana Tech rightfielder and three-hole hitter Steele Netterville is a bright dude.
For the third straight year, Netterville was last week named First Team Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
His GPA is 3.93. (In baseball terminology, that’s like hitting .995)
A fifth-year senior, he graduated with a degree in biology and is studying for his second degree in kinesiology and health sciences. He was accepted into medical school in May, but the school held the spot open so the Byrd High School product could return to Tech for his final year of baseball eligibility.
So grade-wise, he can’t even spell “B.”
But hitting a baseball? That’s a different kind of test.
Organic Chemistry was hard. But hey, he still made an A.
“Hitting is harder,” he said, “by a long, long, long shot.”
“I would never say I’ve figured it out,” said Netterville, who’s hitting .311 with 62 RBI, 13 homers and 13 doubles: his 60 career doubles is a program record. “As soon as you think you’ve got hitting figured out, you get your teeth kicked in.”
He hit only .253 as a sophomore — but he still led the Bulldogs with 26 extra base hits, tied for homers with seven, and was third on the team in RBI.
Not satisfied, he did what he does. He studied. And as the old saying goes, when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear; former Northwestern State and Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard became Tech’s hitting coach before Netterville’s third season.
Lots of pitching machine sliders in the dirt. Lots of film. Lots of just talking about hitting. About making pitchers get the ball up. Just those two and baseball. Time and practice.
“You’d think that, righty on righty, slider would be his weakness,” teammate and righthanded pitcher Greg Martinez said. “And it was. But after pitching against him the last couple years, I can say that it’s not anymore. He’s learned to stay away from those (sliders out of the zone). His timing’s better. And he was already pretty much geared for the fastball.”
Netterville and his teammates, 36-17 overall, 18-9 and two games out of first behind Southern Miss, head into a three-game series today to complete the regular season against Charlotte, 34-18, 16-11 and the hottest team in the league, 11-1 in its last four conference series.
The CUSA Tournament begins next Wednesday in Hattiesburg, Miss. And Netterville likes his team’s chances, for reasons no one but those on the team would fully understand.
“I like us because of how much this team has gone though, dating back to the tornado (in April 2019 that destroyed Tech’s home field),” he said. “The newer guys on the team have heard about it. And this year we’ve got the same number of wins as last year (when Tech hosted a NCAA Regional), but it seems like none of them have been easy. We’ve been super resilient. We’ve been knocked down on the mat, and every time we’ve gotten up.”