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Catching heat: LP's Brooks has been solid behind the plate

Jun. 10—The Lyle-Pacelli baseball team has advanced to its second straight Class A state tournament behind its pitching and defense, but none of that would be possible without a solid catcher behind the plate who sees the whole field.

Junior Logyn Brooks has come into his own this year for the Athletics as he's shown the ability to keep the game in control, while also picking off the occasional baserunner. It's been a breakout year for Brooks, after he took his lumps early on in varsity baseball.

"It was tough for him as a freshman catching older guys with a lot of velocity, but he's grown and gotten a lot better," LP junior pitcher Hunter VaDeer said of Brooks. "He does a great job adjusting back there. When we throw our pregame bullpen, he's usually ready after two or three pitches."

Brooks is in a rare position as a high school catcher as he has had to learn to catch the flame throwing VaDeer, who throws over 90 miles per hour, with a nasty slider to complement his fast ball. LP's Isaac Nelsen also puts plenty of movement on the ball.

"I think it's amazing. It's mind blowing for me to get an opportunity like this, especially to catch for a DI pitcher, and who knows how far he's going to go? We've also got other pitchers who may play at the college level," Brooks said. "Basically I just have to set up. On the curve ball, I can sit outside a bit because they are good at getting outside and I just have to drop down a little bit. On fast balls, they're really good at hitting their targets. I've also been working on framing recently."

Brooks has been a fixture at catcher for LP in each of the last two seasons and he's continually gotten better. LP head coach Brock Meyer said that he brings everything that he can ask out from a leader.

"Logyn is a smart catcher and he works hard. He's always giving his all," Meyer said. "When you get stronger, bigger and older, things get a little easier and the game slows down. When you have Isaac and Hunter throwing as hard as they do, it can get on you pretty quick. From where he was at the start of last year, it's night and day. The work he has put in to go out there with confidence, he gives us a weapon."

Brooks hasn't let himself get down, even when he was an overwhelmed freshman trying to track down the fastest pitches he'd ever seen up close in his life. He's been sturdy, solid and effective.

He's now ready to do what he can to help the Athletics try to win their first ever state championship.

"I believe we can get it. I'm willing to go all out for the team," Brooks said. "I knew that (learning the catcher position) was a progression. I just had to progress to being able to knock down balls to give my pitcher's confidence. When they get confidence, they grow in the game.

Last season, LP (22-2 overall) lost to Fosston 3-2 in the Class A state championship game and the Athletics are hoping to be in that position again. They will open up the Class A quartefinals against Sacred Heart (19-3 overall) at 1 p.m. Thursday at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud. The winner of that game plays in a semifinal at 11 a.m. Friday in Joe Faber Field and the state title game is set for 10 a.m. on June 17 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

With this year's format, teams will be able to use their No. 1 pitcher in the quarterfinals and finals, which means VaDeer could see two starts if LP makes it to the championship game.

"Everybody's pumped for state, how could you not be?" VaDeer said. "After coming up a little bit short last year, we want to go in there and get the job done."

Meyer said he's embracing the rare opportunity to have three straight practices before state and he's working on the things that he can control. He also wants his players to appreciate the journey.

"It's definitely not harder to get them motivated (this year)," Meyer said. "This is what we've worked all offseason for and they're just as excited as last year. We don't take it for granted because we know they're far and few between."