Former Hahnville High pitcher is still throwing winners

Many successful high school athletes may still have no choice but to hang up their spikes when they graduate, but that is not Brooks Vial’s story.

Vial, a former Hahnville High School pitcher, is just getting started.

While pitching for the varsity Tigers as a sophomore in 2011, an injury sidelined him for the season. By the time he rehabbed himself, he was a junior and faced 2012 as a starting pitcher. In his junior year, the team was at 6-12 after 18 games and, according to Vial, yet went on to pull off a comeback he described as “pretty awesome.”

The awesome for him was just beginning, too.

“We were at the bottom of the power rankings,” Vial said. “Then we had a 19-game win streak and went on the state tournament. “That year, Vial was named to the 1st Team All-District squad.

In his senior year, the Tigers went to the second round of the state tournament before being eliminated by Zachary. Vial was voted All-District MVP, All-Metro and sports writer’s 1st team All – State. He finished with a 6-3 record from the hill, striking out 64 and ending the season with a 1.49 ERA.

And Vial did more than just throw for the Tigers.

From the dish, he finished the season with a .327 batting average, knocked in 22 RBI, hit two dingers and banged five doubles.

The University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM)looked like the next stop for the young pitcher.

“I was going to be a preferred walk on for ULM,” Vial said. “But after weighing my options and seeing some things that just didn’t feel right for me, I chose not to go there.” Vial also considered Tulane and had a recruiting visit with them, but felt the economic strain of such a program might be too hard to endure.

With his senior year half over, this athlete with a 3.9 GPA had no viable prospects for college.

Until his former teammate second basemen, Cody Farrell, suggested a move that has not occurred to Vial.

“What about Delgado? You need to just come here,” Farrell said. “You know we’re good.”

Vial conceded that, in his senior year, Delgado was No. 1 in the nation in the polls.

“They had an incredible year and then got upset in a super-regional, and that team, top to bottom, was just as good as any team I had ever been on,” he said.

Vial conceded that junior college is a step below a Division -1 program, but it all has to do with consistency. He explained kids are just as good in junior college league, but they don’t have the regularity that D-1 players have although they are not bad players.

He also said D-1 pitchers typically throw just a few more miles an hour than JUCO players, but that difference is all the difference.

“Typically D-1 guys throw in the low 90’s, like 92, 93,” he said. “Junior college pitchers throw around 85-88 and those few miles an hour extra makes a difference to the hitters.”

Vials calls it the threshold of speed in pitching.

“It’s amazing because what they say is once you get above 93, is it’s whole different world,” he said.

Vial admitted his top speed is only around 84 mph, but he has an advantage that helps him compensate.

“I’m a lefty,” he said. “So I can get away with it.”

A lefty throws off the batter’s timing typically; they are not used to it since left handed pitchers are fewer than right handed hurlers.

“I just rotate, change speeds and keep the hitters off balance,” Vial said, adding, sports writers referred to him as the “crafty lefty.”

It was because “I would never throw a straight ball, just curve balls, change-ups and two seam fastballs away mostly,” he said. “I was always mixing it up – just never throwing flat.”

Vial said he owes so much to Hahnville baseball head coach David Baudry who called his pitches through high school.

“I had a real good relationship with Coach Baudry,” Vial said. “He called everything. I totally trusted him.”

He also admitted another reason he had so much success was his ability to throw any pitch in any count in high school.

After graduation, the Delgado Dolphins head coach Joe Scheuermann (son of legendary LSU/Delgado Community College coach  Louis “Rags” Scheuermann) came calling after a word from Farrell and a call from Baudry.

“Initially, I was against it, against it, against it,” Vial said. “The junior college route sort of scared me. But I guess he had been talking to coach Baudry all summer long and finally he drove out to Luling to speak to me.”

Vial said Scheuermann laid it right on the line.

“You need to come here,” the Dolphin’s coach said. “I got a starting pitcher I’m looking to replace.”

According to Vial, “He said you come play for me and you’re going to get where you want to go.”

At the time, he said his options were limited, and what he liked was he was going to get a full scholarship and get to play – so he signed. His first game with Delgado, he said, justified his decision as a good one right off the bat.

In St. Petersburg, Fla., his first game in a new tournament and Delgado was in a tie game in the fourth inning. Vial got the call – Go to the pen.

“I come in in the fourth inning, tie game, and we lost the first game of the season, so we’re trying not to go 0-2,” Vial said. “And, while we had four or five sophomore relievers, he put me, the freshman in there. I go out there, I get out of the inning, and then I get out of the fifth inning, sixth inning and I walked up to coach after that and said, ‘Don’t take me out, I want this,’ he left me in and I got out the next inning and got my first college win. From then on, I was in the starting rotation.”

This first season, Vial finished 9-3 for the Dolphins, including throwing a shutout in a conference championship game and a trip to the 2014 JUCO World Series. As a sophomore, Vial finished his season at 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA. The team closed out the 2015 season with a 33-16 record, a Region XXIII title, and a South Central District championship, and another trip to the JUCO World Series falling to San Jacinto on day two of the series.

So what’s next for Vial?

An upcoming visit to Richmond to see Virginia Commonwealth is scheduled this week or perhaps a preferred walk-on with ULL, which is already offered to him.

He said he’s going to play ball as long as he can.

Ultimately, his field of dreams is to play in a D-1 program. For Vial, D-1 is “the show.”

When it’s over, he’d like to work in a hospital just like his grandfather did.

“My sister also just graduated from med school and medicine has always been in our family,” Vial said.“My grandfather was a doctor and someday I’d like to do something in sports medicine, like be a physician’s assistant.”

Vial said he also feels like he might like to coach.

“I’ve done some coaching in the summer leagues with coach Baudry,” Vial said. “I really enjoy helping the younger players coming up, teaching the pitching mechanics and the mental part of the game, the knowing of the situation in the game.”

Baudry said he thinks Vial has all the tools to do just that.

“Brooks had a great senior year at Hahnville,” he said. “He went on to Delgado and did great things there, and then he came to give back to the high school. He has an exceptional baseball IQ and really understands the mechanics of the game.”

Vial said he’s worked with Hahnville pitcher Austin Perrin and he believes Perrin has all the stuff to go all the way in talent, maturity and a strong working knowledge of the game.

But his favorite thing to do is work with children.

Like 9-year old Aiden Machado, who had a hard time developing into a ball player when he played machine pitch at 8-years-old.

But Vial says he loves the “aha moment” when you work with a kid and you see it play off. He taught Machado how to pitch, over a period of two years, and now Machado plays for a travel team and is a strikeout kid, according to Vial.

“It’s kind of cool to see that, Vial said. “Yeah, I love coaching.”


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