Kade Granier was virtually untouchable during his time on the mound atop Destrehan’s pitching rotation.
So far, it’s been more of the same for the six-foot-four, 219-pound right-hander in his time at Southeastern.
Granier debuted with the Lions as a freshman reliever in 2015, and made a strong accounting of himself in 36.2 innings of play. His 1.96 ERA was the lowest mark on the team. He struck out 24 batters in 22 appearances.
He helped Southeastern put together a 42-17 record and to win the Southland Conference championship for the first time in the program’s history.
“It was a really great year in a lot of ways,” said Granier, who has been playing summer ball in Illinois as he prepares for his sophomore campaign. “To have a year like we had, it’s something special and it was a lot of fun. For it to be my freshman season, I just want to build off that and continue to get better.”
Granier said the greatest adjustment he had to make to play at the next level was converting from a starting pitcher to a reliever.
“You just have to have a completely different mindset,” Granier said. “You’re not trying to go five to seven innings. Your job is to go out there and get guys out however you can and give your team a chance to win the game.
“The level of play is a lot greater (at the college level), and that itself is an adjustment. You can’t afford to make a mistake. Everything happens a lot faster.”
Granier’s coach at Destrehan, Marty Luquet, said many at DHS thought Southeastern got a steal when the pitcher signed there and that Granier has since proven it to be true.
“He could have signed in the SEC, I believe, but he really liked it (at Southeastern),” Luquet said. “And Southeastern thought he had a chance to be special. They just had the best season in their history, and he wasn’t just a reliever for them, but their Friday night reliever. He was usually in their toughest game of the weekend. I think his role’s going to only expand going forward.”
Luquet said Granier brings a couple of strong edges with him to the college game.
“His height is a big advantage,” Luquet said. “He can throw at a real good down angle. He’s also got a great slider.
“When he needs to strike someone out, he has that pitch to go to. When you have that kind of strikeout pitch, it can make you really tough.”
Luquet has seen that slider countless times before. As a Destrehan prep star, few could touch Granier’s dominance.
In his senior year, he went a perfect 9-0 on the mound, earning district MVP and All-State honors. He finished his final season with a 0.97 ERA, perhaps highlighted by a stellar opening round postseason performance against Byrd in which he threw a no-hitter and struck out 11. He allowed just 10 earned runs over 72 innings pitched. His All-State nod was the second of his career. Granier wasn’t shabby with a bat, either, as his .315 average, five home runs and 27 RBIs can attest.
Those pitching numbers were well-earned. Granier, Luquet said, drew the team’s toughest matchups. That season, he earned victories over Brother Martin, Rummel, eventual Class 5A champion Barbe and twice led DHS over archrival Hahnville.
Luquet said Granier has always had a knack for keeping his walks down, and his pinpoint control means teams had to string together hits against him to score.
“That’s pretty tough, when you’re talking about Kade,” Luquet said.
Granier echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“I think it’s my biggest strength,” Granier said. “I throw a lot of strikes. That’s always been a big focus of mine, to just throw strike after strike and walk as few as I can.”
He’s now part of a Lions’ rotation that was effective up and down its roster. As a team, SLU pitchers had a 3.18 ERA on the season.
“It was a huge lift to have guys around me who knew their stuff and could help you out with anything,” Granier said. “I went to a bunch of guys this season with questions and they were really helpful.”
Apparently so, given his success. Granier seems certain to continue making his supporters proud.
“We’re so proud of him at Destrehan,” Luquet said. “Not just because what he’s accomplished on the field, but because he’s such a fantastic young man. Everyone feels great to see him excelling in life. We’re all tremendously excited for him.”