Bearcat to Bulldog: Gibson hopes to finish strong

By T. Scott Boatright

This season has been a wild ride for Louisiana Tech redshirt senior pitcher Cade Gibson.

Gibson has roller-coastered his way to a 4-3 record with a 4.78 ERA this season, but earned the role as the Friday starter for the Bulldogs in Conference-USA contests and will be on the mound when a three-game home series against Western Kentucky begins at 6 p.m. tonight at The Love Shack.

LA Tech enters the game at 33-17 and stands in third place in C-USA standings while the Hilltoppers are 7-17 but have won  three out of their last four games after taking two out of three over Alabama-Birmingham last weekend for their second conference series win this year.

“It’s a matter of taking care of business on Fridays, and to my standards, I haven’t done a good enough job of helping us win on Fridays,” Gibson said of his mindset entering tonight’s game. “But I plan to go out there (today) and win and help us win on Saturday and Sunday, too.”

Gibson took the loss last Friday at home against Florida Atlantic, giving up eight earned runs in 4.2 innings of work and said he’s ready to rebound back onto a winning track.

“Anytime you have an off day you kind of try to get away from the field and just try to think about something else,” Gibson said. “You just try to kind of reset. 

“But I think it’s a matter of your confidence never wavering and just going out there and attacking the same way when I was pitching good. I just have to go out there and attack and trust (Tech pitching coach Cooper Fouts) and the game plan he puts together and trust the guys behind me to get it done.”

Gibson leads Tech pitchers with 78 strikeouts but said that’s not his focus when he’s on the mound.

“Really it all comes down to how your opponents’ swings are on a given day, depending on what pitches you can throw,” Gibson said. “Scouting reports and watching a lot of video really help with that, so when you get to two strikes you know what really might put them away. Really for me it’s just trusting (Tech catcher Jorge Corona) and trusting Coach Fouts to call the right pitches. I really don’t try to strike anybody out. I just focus on executing the pitch and trusting the defense behind me. And if I get a strikeout, even better.”

Gibson has an arsenal of four pitches at his disposal.

“I throw mainly a fastball, curveball or change-up,” Gibson said. “And I have a slider I can throw as well. Probably my curveball is my favorite pitch. It’s been a pretty good one since I was little and I’ve just kind of mastered it over the years as I’ve gotten older and stronger. And I’ve learned more through the technology that we have with calculating the spin rate and everything. I really do like throwing the curveball, though.”

To escape baseball for a bit, Gibson goes to the great outdoors.

“It depends on the season,” Gibson said. “If it’s winter I’m hunting. If it’s spring or summer I’m probably at the lake fishing with my dad, who lives on Lake D’Arbonne. Either that or playing golf. Those are kind of my go-tos there.”

The former Ruston High School Bearcat who went on to play a year for LSU-Shreveport before becoming a Bulldog, said he would love being part of a late season run for the Bulldogs like last year when Tech ended up hosting an NCAA Regional.

“That was electric — a dream scenario,” Gibson said. “I’ve always loved pitching in front of a home crowd, and being in front of one I grew up with — the Lord has blessed me in so many ways just being able to pitch in front of this home crowd the past two years has been incredible. It’s always a blessing to pitch in front of them.”

Whenever he’s on the mound for the Bulldogs, Gibson has a little bit of Bearcat in him, too. 

“I brought the competitiveness in me that playing for Ruston High School gave me that much more,” Gibson said. “I probably love winning more than anyone. You’ll never see me quit, no matter if I’m cruising or if I’m playing bad, you’ll never see me quit. It’s just that mentality that my dad and pretty much my whole family taught me to have. I never quit. And I’ll do anything and everything I can to win.”