With the loss of some key pitchers, the McNeese State baseball team will be looking for new arms to contribute to the pitching staff for the 2020 season.
One player who will have a chance to do so is Kale Breaux. The Sulphur High graduate spent the last four seasons playing at Mississippi State, but the lefty confirmed that he will graduate in August and go to McNeese as a graduate transfer for the 2019-20 season.
Part of the reason Breaux said he made the decision to transfer to McNeese was because it’s a school he’s quite familiar with. His father Sam played football for the Cowboys in the 1990s, captaining the 1993 team that won the Southland Conference championship and went to the Division I-AA (now known as the Football Championship Subdivision) championship game alongside Terry Irving and former McNeese head coach Lance Guidry.
“I’ve always worn McNeese growing up,” Breaux said. “And I’ve always found that the culture at McNeese is fantastic. As a kid, I always wanted to be a McNeese Cowboy. After graduating from Mississippi State, it was really a no-brainer. McNeese State is back home and I’ve always wanted to be a Cowboy. I’m really thankful for the opportunity for my final year of college.”
From an academic standpoint, Breaux said he has two summer classes to complete at Mississippi State before he graduates on Aug. 1 with his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. He said he plans on getting his master’s in criminal justice at McNeese.
Breaux’s time in Starkville on the Bulldogs baseball team was filled with change. In his four years at Mississippi State, he had four head coaches. Andy Cannizaro, the coach who recruited Breaux to MSU, abruptly resigned from the Bulldogs in February 2018 and was hired as head coach at Holy Cross high school in New Orleans in February 2019.
Those changes, combined with undergoing Tommy John surgery after appearing in one game during the 2017 season, and a lack of pitching opportunities after coming back from surgery (five appearances over the last two seasons) led Breaux to decide to transfer.
Breaux said he feels good and that his arm is better now than it was when he was in high school, pre-Tommy John surgery.
“My arm feels fantastic,” Breaux said. “There’s a lot of questions to be asked, but my arm feels great. It’s very stable and very strong. I’m working to get even better.”
Another big factor for Breaux in choosing McNeese was the opportunity to come in and contribute right away. The Cowboys are losing seven pitchers, six to graduation (two of whom were drafted and another was signed to an undrafted free-agent contract) and one — Rhett Deaton — to retirement due to injuries. Aidan Anderson and Deaton wound up as McNeese’s top two starting pitchers down the stretch of the season as the Cowboys went on to win the SLC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
Breaux said the opportunity to not only play an important role but also pitch with fellow Sulphur graduate Will Dion, who was a freshman in high school when Breaux was a senior, played a major factor in his decision.
“That was one of the things I looked at,” Breaux said. “McNeese needs pitching and I feel like I can help out a ton along with Dion and Andrew Sheridan that’s coming in (from LSU-Eunice). That was definitely one of the factors of me going to McNeese. I saw they need pitching and I really want to help this team win.”
Aside from a brief vacation right now, Breaux said he plans to get in the batting cages and throw some long toss to prepare for the season.
He said he wants to go into the new school and athletic year ready to contribute for head coach Justin Hill, who he is thankful to for giving him the chance to be back in blue and gold.
“As soon as I entered the transfer portal, (Hill) gave me a call,” Breaux said. “They’re excited; they said they believe in me. I told them I believe in myself more than I ever have in my entire life. I want to be a Cowboy, I want to be a great teammate, and a great player for this team next year.”