Lutcher High's Jared Poche is Mr. Baseball
BATON ROUGE, La. - Lutcher High School has always been known for football. But when Jared Poche decided to give up football prior to his senior season, the community understood.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Poche was pursuing a dream that turned into a dream season for the Lutcher baseball team.
"I always loved playing football, but I don't love football the way I do baseball," Poche said. "Most of us started playing baseball when we were little. We always said our goal was to win a state title when we were seniors. I wanted to do what I could to help make that happen."
The left-hander did just that, leading the Bulldogs to their first state title in baseball since 1975. Already, Poche has been voted the Class 4A Outstanding Player and the Louisiana's Gatorade Player of the Year. By claiming Louisiana's Farm Bureau/Mr. Baseball award from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, Poche completed an unofficial triple crown.
"He's so deserving of this award and the others he's received," Lutcher coach Davey Clement said of Poche. "He put in a lot of work to prepare for the season.
"Jared is very much a team player and one of the most likeable kids you'll meet. He had a great group of teammates around him, but at the same time, he wasn't afraid to put the team on his back when he needed to."
Poche, an LSU signee, compiled an 11-0 record that included a 0.80 earned run average with 129 strikeouts in 75 innings. He also hit .429 with 12 doubles, 7 home runs and 40 RBIs.
One of the times Poche put the third-seeded Bulldogs on his back was the Class 4A title game. He tossed a one-hitter, striking out 11 with only one walk in a 4-0 victory over Lafayette's St. Thomas More, the No. 1 seed.
"He (Poche) was better than we were today," STM coach Gary Perkins said afterward.
Poche also out-hit the Cougars, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.
While that title-game effort seemed extraordinary, it actually was close to the norm for Poche, who picked up his share of admirers along the way.
"The first time we saw him (Poche) was in the jamboree and his pitches were all over the place," Destrehan High coach Marty Luquet said. "But the second time we saw him a few weeks later, he wasn't. He struck out 13 in six innings.
"He has command of all his pitches and he can work the fastball inside and out. Once he does that, he'll backdoor you with a curve. And his changeup isn't bad either. That's a tough combination to hit."
After Poche's second performance against his Class 5A Wildcats, Luquet told several people he compared favorably with one of his top pitchers, 2005 Mr. Baseball Beau Jones, who has gone on to the professional ranks.
Luquet said he believes that Poche will go on to play a key role at LSU, provided he isn't drafted too high in the upcoming draft.
Playing professionally sooner rather than later is not something Poche is focused on.
"Playing baseball at LSU has always been my dream and I can't wait," Poche said. "I feel like I improved my command of my pitches between my junior and senior years. I've got to keep working to get better."