Throwing shutout games and receiving conference and regional awards, junior Gabe Rodery, a nursing major from Verdigris, OK, begins his third season as a left-handed pitcher for the Oklahoma Christian University baseball team.
On Tuesday, March 12, Rodery was named the Heartland Conference pitcher of the week for the second week in a row. The previous week, Rodery also was named the NCAA Division II South Central Region pitcher of the week.
To win the conference award on March 12, Rodery pitched his second straight complete-game shutout against the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, a regionally ranked conference opponent.
With his love for the game, Rodery said he looks to maintain his energy, continue to pitch well and make it to conference playoffs.
Q: Why did you want to play baseball at Oklahoma Christian?
A: “When I came on a couple of visits, the coaching staff made me feel welcome, and it felt like where I needed to be. I wanted to go somewhere I could make the biggest impact, and I believe I am still at the right place. I have met some lifelong friends, playing the game I love with a great group of guys and getting a quality education.”
Q: What do you love about playing baseball?
A: “It is something I cannot put into words. I just love the game. I love being able to play at a high level, competing, practicing and all the ‘in-betweens’ about it. It’s a privilege to be able to show up to the field every day and play this game.”
Q: What were your personal goals for this baseball season?
A: “I decided to keep a little journal throughout the year with exercises, warm-ups and band routines. I have a whole page of personal goals that I wrote down to accomplish this year. I set goals for wins, strikeouts and other typical stats, but some of the bigger ones I wanted to accomplish this year were pitches per inning and first-pitch strike percentage.”
Q: What are the team goals for this season?
A: “We play off a lot of energy, so one of the upperclassmen’s goals for the year was to keep the energy each and every day we are at the field. Ultimately, the goal is to win a national championship, but we take it one game, one inning at a time. A huge goal for us this year is to make it back to the conference tournament. It has been a couple of years since Oklahoma Christian has made a tournament appearance, so we want to make it back to Cleburne, where we started the second week of the season.”
Q: How have you gotten more confident as a pitcher?
A: “Baseball, in general, is such a mental game. Having confidence in yourself plays a huge part in a player’s game. Knowing that you can do what you want, when you want and put it into action is something that will take you far in this game. I think the biggest thing for me personally was being able to trust all my pitches and translate practice into a game. Being able to perform on a big stage is what we all want to do, and if you do not have confidence, it’s just not going to happen.”
Q: What makes your pitching style different or unique?
A: “I would say the biggest thing is the ability to locate all my pitches on both sides of the plate. Some days, one pitch may not be working, but the last couple of outings I have been able to locate all four of them. My change-up is probably my best pitch because it comes out of my hand exactly like my fastball.”
Q: How did you maintain your success while pitching in the cold temperature against Rogers State on March 1?
A: “I think what helped me was my thought of, ‘The quicker I get out of this inning, the quicker I get to put my jacket back on.’ Usually, when it is game time, I try and block out anything that is going on outside of the game. It does not matter when it is time to step on the rubber. Being a pitcher, you are constantly moving, meaning once you get your body temperature up, it is easy to stay warm.”
Q: How did you put together another shutout against University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS)?
A: “UAFS is always a tough team to play. They have a unique hitting approach that is different from many of the teams we play in the conference. Lucky for me that day, I was able to mix my pitches very well, locate all four of my pitches and Callen Crockett, our catcher, called a great game. We have been working extremely well together the past couple weeks and have had a very good understanding of how to attack hitters throughout opponents’ lineups.”
Q: What are your plans after school?
A: “If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to play professional baseball, but I am not banking on that as my only option. If I do not get that chance, I plan to graduate, become an RN and, after a couple of years, apply for CRNA school.”
Rodery and the Eagles will be in action tonight at home against Newman University at 2 p.m. They will play Newman again Friday at 12 p.m.