MEET MR. BASEBALL: Born winner, Walker leaves Bucs with one loss

Warren Arceneaux

Jack Walker knows how to make an exit. The Barbe pitcher saved his best performance for last, throwing 10 no-hit innings to help the Bucs beat district rival Sam Houston 1-0 in a Class 5A semifinal game. Barbe won the game in 11 innings en route to its 11th state championship.

The performance capped a stellar season in which Walker went 13-0 with a 0.48 ERA. He struck out 121 batters in 84 innings pitched and allowed 24 hits and 22 walks.

For that he is winner of this year’s Mr. Baseball award, presented to the state’s most outstanding high school player.

Walker threw a complete game no-hitter against Denham Springs in the first round of the playoffs. In four playoff starts, he threw 31 innings, allowing three runs and six hits while striking out 41.

Walker lost once in his career.

“In that game, he threw a complete game one-hitter with 14 strikeouts,” Barbe head coach Glenn Cecchini said. “We lost 1-0 to Live Oak. He was 25-1 in his career. We’ve had some great pitchers here. He is the most consistent one we’ve ever had. He didn’t allow any extra-base hits this year, that is the most remarkable thing.”

Cecchini said Walker’s easy-going personality helped him on the mound.

“He never got rattled, even when things were not going well,” Cecchini said. “He had all the intangibles. His poise was way beyond the level of most high school kids. He threw hard; he had two breaking balls he could throw for strikes and he was able to elevate the fastball. He had a hard slider, a 12-to-6 curveball and a two-seam fastball that had sink to it.”

Arriving at Barbe, Walker said he was hoping to help the program continue its winning ways.

“After watching Barbe win many championships I knew what was expected of me when I made the team, so really all I wanted to do was to keep up the standard that is expected of Barbe and try to be a major contributor by the time I graduated,” he said.

After going 3-0 as a freshman, Walker earned a spot in the rotation as a sophomore. He said scrimmaging against teammates before that season gave him a confidence boost.

“Coach had me throwing to the top hitters on the team and I was getting them out,” he said. and “Me and the guys I threw to would talk about things I saw or they saw and they would tell me how hard I was to hit. I think that gave me the confidence boost I needed and made me realize I was going to help the team a lot that year.”

Walker went 9-0 and was the starting pitcher in the 2019 championship game, an 8-2 win over Sam Houston.

Later that summer he injured his pitching arm. The resulting surgery and rehabilitation lasted a year, but Walker was ready to go by the time his senior season started.

Now he is headed to Mississippi State after signing with the Bulldogs last fall. There he’ll be looking to continue the growth he’s made over the past four years.

“I think the thing I enjoyed the most about my career at Barbe was being able to come in as a freshman and growing everyday,” he said. “Then having the results that I did as a senior and getting to look back at how much I have grown as a player.”

””

Former Barbe High ace Jack Walker pitched the Bucs to the Class 5A state championship this spring, the 11th in program history. Walker was 13-0 and 25-1 in his career, becoming the sixth player in school history to be named Louisiana’s Mr. Baseball.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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