May 20, 2016
Warming up in the bullpen and looking up into the stands at TD Ameritrade Park with his adrenaline rushing, Hunter Devall warmed up to take the mound in the top of the seventh inning in LSU’s first game at the College World Series in 2015, the first of two appearances in Omaha for the left-hander.
“All kids that are into baseball growing up always dream of playing in the College World Series,” Devall said. “You never really expect that dream to come, and when it does, it’s overwhelming.”
It is extremely overwhelming, especially for a kid from Clinton, La., a town with a population of around 1,300 people. He lives on a large piece of property where the closest thing to the Devall residency is a Sonic that is 10 minutes up the road.
In Clinton, everyone knows everybody. Everyone goes to the same church on Sundays, and when you pitch in the College World Series, you’re the star of the town.
“I think I heard from everyone in the town after I got to throw in the College World Series,” Devall recalled.
Growing up in a town that is like a large family to Devall, he quickly learned from his father the gift of gab and how to story-tell, as the left-hander is always cracking jokes wherever he is located.
He is also known to take a few of his teammates back to Clinton and show them what life is like in the deer stand and on the water, as two of his favorite pastimes are hunting and fishing.
“I like to take teammates that have never had the opportunity to experience it or just guys that live too far to travel back to their place,” he said. “It’s just a good break away from the busy lives we live between school and baseball.”
The left-hander spent close to two hours taking target practice with junior right-hander Russell Reynolds, and the two journeyed into the woods the next morning to make a hunt in a two-man stand located in a small pine tree. Despite the 20 mph winds, luckily, Reynolds was able to make a shot and harvested his first deer.
The next trip for the two pitchers was not as successful. Coming down to hunt hogs with Devall, the two of them ventured out, and instead of hogs, all Reynolds walked away with was a split forehead.
“He said the gun wouldn’t kick,” Reynolds laughed as he mentioned that the scope left a permanent mark on his forehead that will forever let him remember the memories that the two have had on the property.
Much like his hunts with Reynolds and many other teammates, Devall will always have his memories of his times at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field, such as his collegiate debut against Maryland, where he says he didn’t have any nerves in his system before his appearance because it was too cold to feel anything.
Devall is always sure to make the most out of every outing he gets, and the senior is a leader in the dugout, as he is always making sure that his teammates understand what it takes to be successful on the field.
“He’s a no-nonsense leader,” according to Reynolds. “When it comes to baseball, he’s intense.”
Devall added, “I try to show them just because you have ‘Tigers’ written across your chest, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game. I think it’s something we found early in the season in some midweek games or even some of the weekend games that we shouldn’t have lost.
“We’ve gone out there just expecting to win the ball game, and I’ve tried to explain to them, that you have to go out and play every day. Just because the guys in past years have gone out there and won every game, it wasn’t by luck or because they went to LSU. It’s because they went out there and worked for it. They earned the win.”
His work ethic and leadership have catapulted him as an anchor for the pitching staff as the only four-year senior on the team.
“Hunter’s been the epitome of what we look at on our pitching staff as a team guy,” pitching coach Alan Dunn attested. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do for his four years. If we’ve asked him to start for us, he’s done that. If we’ve asked him to come out of the bullpen, he’s done that. We’ve asked him to be the support of our bullpen.”
Devall will graduate with a degree in interdisciplinary studies after he finishes an internship. His major consists of three minors in agricultural business, business management and business leadership, but before his school career comes to an end, he has his focus on the diamond and the home stretch of the season.
“Looking as we go down the stretch, I know he’s going to be a vital part in whatever role we need him to be, but also, I’m excited for him as he looks to graduate, get his degree and go on with the rest of his life,” Dunn said. “He’s been a huge part of our program.”