Senior right-handed pitcher Hunter Lemke closed out last season with eight saves, tied for second all-time in a single season at Texas State.
Lemke progressed every year since he was a freshman, making 12 appearances and striking out 11 batters while throwing a 3.46 ERA.
“We never really expected Hunter to become the closer,” said assistant coach Jeremy Fikac. “You never want to really put a label on someone, especially the prestige and nerves around a position like the closer. He had the competitive spirit and the composure and mentality on the mound that lead us to believe he could do it.”
During Lemke’s junior year at Texas State, he pitched a career-high 47 innings, striking out 44 and earning eight saves.
“I just wanted the ball in my hands in the worst situation,” Lemke said. “Knowing that my teammates are counting on me to win the game is a good feeling.”
Lemke grew up in Cypress, a town 25 miles northwest of Houston, where he began playing T-ball at the age of three with the support of his parents.
“I started T-ball really young,” Lemke said. “I started when I was three and my parents have been my biggest supporters. They’ve done everything they can knowing that baseball was number one.”
At Cypress Falls High School, Lemke led the Golden Eagles to a 28-6 record, striking out 118 times in 66 innings.
“Hunter’s leadership is what makes him who he is,” Fikac said. “He’s always in the middle when we’re down four runs to get everyone back in the game. His competitive nature and his focus on the mound made him a good fit as the closer. He does not like to lose.”
Coming out of high school, Lemke was an undersized pitcher/infielder, standing at six feet tall, with an awkward delivery.
“We saw a very athletic young player,” said Coach Ty Harrington. “He could pitch and he played in the middle infield and the love of the game was without question there.”
One of Lemke’s signature games was last year when the Bobcats went to San Antonio to take on rival UTSA. Texas State lost the lead in the sixth, but as soon as Lemke entered the game the Roadrunners were shut down.
“It felt amazing to get a win like that,” Lemke said. “It was a 1,000 times better because it was against UTSA.
Lemke struck out five in a row, retired 10 consecutive batters and did not allow a hit in the four innings he pitched.
“It was a humbling experience,” Lemke said. “It helps knowing you have a great defense behind you. I was just trying to throw strikes, and I knew that they would play behind me.”
Lemke was also infielder in high school, hitting .413 with five homeruns at the plate. When asked if Lemke might get some at-bats this year, Harrington did not rule the possibility out.
“We’ve had the idea before,” Harrington said. “We tried playing in the field more, but I didn’t want to overwork (Lemke) during a long season. He’s an athlete. He’s capable of it.”