WATSON -- For Live Oak pitcher Tanner Roberts, the chance to play college baseball is just a natural progression given how his skills have increased over the past few years.
Now, he’s got the opportunity to play at the next level after signing with Louisiana-Monroe earlier this week.
“Ever since I was about 14, I have been progressively getting better and better and better,” Roberts said. “Once I got into high school, I knew I had a chance (to play in college) once the velo increased and I was able to get batters out a lot easier.”
Roberts said the Warhawks were his first offer in August of 2020 before other schools reached out to him this summer.
“Toward the end of the year, I was kind of honed in on ULM and went and toured it and really liked, so then I decided to stick with them,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he got to throw at a camp at ULM, then took a tour of campus that solidified his decision to attend the school.
“It’s just kind of the feeling you get when you go there,” Roberts said. “You’re going there. You can visualize yourself being there and playing there. It’s just kind of a good feeling. I had been talking to Coach (Jake) Carlson (ULM’s recruiting coordinator) there for a while, and then I meet (ULM head coach Michael) Federico recently, and I really like him. A lot of my coaches here like him a lot, and it just felt like home.”
Live Oak baseball coach Jesse Cassard said he and Federico are longtime friends and noted former Eagle baseball players Kade Dupont and Seth Wiginton are members of the ULM baseball team.
‘There’s a trust factor there. I’ve got to send him the right ones to keep the pipeline open,” Cassard said with a chuckle. “Dupont’s doing really well. I know Wiginton’s going through some growth there, so Tanner hopefully will be a good addition to them. It’s nice to have those connections and be able to help our kids out. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about is getting the kids in the right place. There could be other schools interested, other schools offering, but what’s the right fit for the kid academically, family, financials, the baseball end of it? If you go to a place where you’re going to sit until you’re a junior or senior, what’s the use of going there? You need to go somewhere where you’re going to play.”
“ULM seemed like the right fit,” Cassard continued. “It’s cool that we’ve got a nice little pipeline going up there now.”
While at the ULM camp, Roberts said he got some valuable feedback from the Warhawk coaching staff.
“They let me know what they wanted me to be in their program, and I liked that,” Roberts said. “They want me to be a starter, and they want me to be able to throw complete games and do everything for them, which felt really good because I knew I was going to get playing time versus going to a bigger school, which (I) may not get extra playing time.”
Like the ULM coaches, Cassard is expecting Roberts to settle into a role with the program quickly because of his skill set on the mound.
“Tanner’s got real stuff from the left side,” Cassard said. “He’s changed his body. He’s getting muscular. He’s always been able to pitch. I’ve been watching him since he was in the eighth grade. He has high pitch ability. He throws hard for a left-hander, especially a high school left-hander. He’s going to be up to 90, 91 this year.”
“The academic side fit him, and I think he’s going to be a contributor fast,” Cassard continued. “I think he’ll walk in there next year and pitch. You just don’t see many left-handers that have stuff like that. His ball moves a lot. He’s got good secondary to back it up. I really think he’s got a lot of upside.”
Before he heads to Monroe, Roberts said his focus is on wrapping up his senior season with one goal in mind.
“The goal is to win a state championship,” he said. “Every year, win a state championship, win district, do everything. It was very disappointing (last season), but I think we have a real chance this year to kind of come back and be really strong.
“I’m so excited,” he continued. “I can kind of go through this year breezing and not have to worry about whether I’m going to commit here or go there. I just know that I’m already signed, and I can go play baseball.”