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'Cool is the Enemy'

Jorge Corona's quiet strength for Tech baseball
Saturday, March 18, 2023
Live life on the baseball diamond

Louisiana Tech catcher Jorge Corona has been the quiet leader for the Bulldogs during his third season as a starter. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Tech Strategic Communications

Jorge Corona walks into the right batting cage inside the Louisiana Tech baseball facility, ducking under the netting as it drapes in behind him.

He picks up a ball one at a time and places it on the tee for batting practice.

While others wait in line for the automated pitching machine that spits the ball back to the plate with different looks, Corona is deliberate with his time on his own. He’s more than comfortable taking straight-center cuts and driving the ball with power that doesn’t take much effort to load up.

The tee barely moves as the ball explodes into the dark wall on the end of the cavernous cage, a rather fitting sign of how the fourth- year junior operates.

It’s old-fashioned, quiet, and yet often gets the job done. At the end of the day, that’s just who Corona is – working in silence with results to show for it to make him one of the most dependable players for the Bulldogs over the last four seasons at catcher.

“I really just go out there and play the game,” Corona said. “I don’t try to do too much.”

Since the 2020 season, the Bulldogs have played 161 games. Corona has played in 141, and started behind the plate from day one.

He started 61 of Tech’s 64 games a season ago, but he rarely grabs the attention of onlookers as the program’s recent rise has been widely covered.

As the Bulldogs went on to win 43 games last season, Corona led Tech in home runs (16) and was third in RBI. In the Austin Regional, Corona hit .266 with 7 RBI.

Corona leads the team in doubles (5) this season and has the second- most career multi-hit games (41) among current Tech players.

Lane Burroughs, Corona’s head coach, hopes the Miami native gets the attention he deserves while he’s still a Bulldog.

“He’s kind of in the background,” Burroughs said. “He doesn’t want to be out front or in front of the camera. He’s garnered enough respect because he shows up every day and does a great job. In my opinion, he’s one of the best catchers in this part of the country if not the entire country.”

“It isn’t a lot of fluff with him. It’s just a lot of really hard work.”

‘Cool is the enemy’

There’s a saying that embodies the culture within the walls of Tech baseball.

It’s a deliberate rebuttal to the style of baseball Burroughs and many players inside the program feel has come about in recent years.

As bat-flips and flash sell highlights and the game puts a spotlight on perceived showboating, the Bulldogs preach a different approach – one that fits Corona perfectly.

“We have a saying here, ‘ cool is the enemy,’” Burroughs said. “ We don’t do cool in our program. Look, I want them to have fun. I want baseball to be fun. I’m kind of in the middle of that. I want there to be fun, but we don’t want to show up our opponent. With Jorge, it’s all business.”

‘Cool’ can seem like an ambiguous label, but former Tech Bulldog Steele Netterville put the term in more specific lanes.

Netterville, who played with Corona from 2020 to 2022 and is the program record holder in doubles and second in home runs, said his former teammate doesn’t need flash when his work ethic speaks for itself.

With how the Bulldogs see ‘cool’, Corona is the opposite. He’s a winner.

“Cool is lollygagging around and making everything look good, and you might have flashier moments, but you don’t do it every day,” Netterville said. “That’s not what we were about and that’s not what they’re about now. He has a job to do and that’s what he’s there to do. What’s cool is winning, and he’s a winner. It’s almost like he was born with that quality.”

Philip Matulia, a current teammate of Corona and fifth-year senior, calls the four-year catcher a ‘grinder’ and said his mild-mannered personality and approach is what makes him the antithesis of ‘cool’.

It’s what sets him apart and what Matulia appreciates the most about Corona.

“You can have the guys that do all the flash, but at the end of the day if you’re someone that’s just a silent killer, getting his hits, doing his work behind the plate, even-keeled, silently, you respect that,” Matulia said.

Corona said the idea of playing not to be ‘cool’ is learned behavior, passed down from team leaders before him that’s he tried to carry on.

The 23-year-old loves the grind mentality and believes it’s what’s behind any successful team. The good ones don’t celebrate style over substance, and Corona said that’s why he feels at home at Tech.

While the rest of the college baseball space focuses on SEC and Big 12 teams, Corona said the Bulldogs embrace the moniker of junkyard dogs in CUSA, being the scrappy bunch that wants to out-work you.

“A real blue- collar mindset,” Corona said. “I feel like this school is filled with a lot of guys that didn’t get the opportunity at the bigger school and definitely have the talent for it, and so coming in here, most of us just have that edge and get the opportunity to play every day. The guys before me have established that and really left that in the program, and I just came in and just ran with it.”

Netterville might not be around Corona on a day- to- day basis anymore, but he keeps in constant communication with current staff and players and knows the quiet strength of Corona is as present as it was the first time he met him.

Even from afar, Netterville views Corona as the consummate professional and had a parting message for Tech fans and potentially interested MLB teams who want to know who Corona is at his core.

“He’s a pro. There’s not really highs and lows for him,” Netterville said. “He takes care of his business and he’s still, in my eyes, underappreciated for what he does. If you want someone to lead your team to be a winner, lead your pitchers to a winning mentality; if that’s the guy you want, you want Jorge.”