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He's a junkyard dog

Logan McLeod continues to rise for Diamond Dogs
Friday, April 28, 2023
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Lane Burroughs believes Logan McLeod has become the go-to leader of Tech baseball this season, and it comes after the junior overcame doubt and adversity to get there. Photo by Kelsey Chanler

Lane Burroughs thought he had seen the last of Logan McLeod in a Bulldog uniform.

After a disappointing individual season and a similar trajectory towards his fall work, McLeod met his head coach for a one-on-one meeting in Burroughs’ office during the fall of 2021.

It wasn’t exactly a fireside chat.

“We had a pretty good altercation in my office and we kind of went at each other,” Burroughs, Tech’s head baseball coach, said. “I expected more out of Logan. I didn’t feel like he was giving us everything. I literally thought he was going to leave. We were not asking him to leave. But I think he was contemplating leaving.”

McLeod had played in only 20 games the previous season — mostly backing up Taylor Young at shortstop while hitting .176 with a single RBI, with more than double the number of strikeouts (7) than hits (3).

He remembers the feeling — and altercations — he had with coaches after his 2020 and 2021 seasons and the direct message he received if he ever wanted to be a real contributor.

“In all my exit meetings, they told me, ‘You’ve gotta grind like Taylor (Young) if you want to be good at this level. You gotta be like him,’” McLeod said. “ I take pride in that because that’s probably the greatest player that’s ever played here and he showed everybody the way that if you want to win at this level and host regionals, you’ve got to play like a dirtbag.”

Since then, McLeod’s become a whole new player and taken on the ‘dirtbag’ moniker he knows this program has always needed.

He won Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 after starting all 64 games at third base, committing three errors while hitting .280 and slugging .339.

And this season, when the Bulldogs’ offense has been slumping more than usual, he’s currently leading the team in batting average (.295), on base percentage (.425), hit-by-pitches (15), and at one point held an on-base streak of 23 games.

Burroughs still can’t believe the turnaround McLeod has had in his career, but it’s exactly why the seventh-year skipper believes he’s the embodiment of proving someone wrong.

Going forward, Burroughs isn’t doubting McLeod any longer.

“He’s the poor man’s Taylor Young,” Burroughs said. “He doesn’t run great, but he’s a solid defender and he’s giving us our best at bats right now. He’s one of those guys; he just proves you wrong. That’s why I’ve always liked him at the bottom of the order because he gives you great at bats and he’ll turn the lineup over. He’s just a grinder. I know that’s an overused term but that’s what he is. He’s just a Bulldog, man.”

A leader emerges

It’s March 19, and the Bulldogs have just been shutout 9-0 at the hands of Charlotte.

Burroughs is still on his postgame radio show before he speaks with reporters after Tech dropped to 0-4 on Sunday and lost its first C-USA series of the year.

What he didn’t know was McLeod was letting his teammates have it inside the locker room, pleading with his team to figure out why the Bulldogs started the year with a 10-10 record.

Then, Tech associate head coach Mitch Gaspard met Burroughs on his walk into the team facility.

“I went up to the locker room and Coach Gaspard said, ‘Well, one positive is you’d be proud of Logan,’” Burroughs said. “We went by the locker room and (Logan) was screaming and crying and giving just an impassioned speech to the team basically saying, ‘This ain’t who we are.’ With no coaches in there – you know I think when you go through adversity, leaders emerge. I didn’t even know Logan had that in him. Honestly, he’s emerged as the leader of this team.”

McLeod admits his boldness and return of confidence took time, particularly after a rough start at shortstop to begin the season saw him commit five errors.

But after the coaching staff moved him back to his natural and all-conference position at third, McLeod said he’s found himself again and the swagger it takes to be a Bulldog.

But he’ll be first to tell you his time at shortstop wasn’t up to his standards.

“I kind of got complacent with where I was because last year,” McLeod said. “I won Defensive Player of the Year and I kind of needed to be shown that you can be replaced. It’s baseball. Somebody can go out there and be better than you. Short was a lot. I should have been better than I was and that’s on me. Going back to third it’s freer. But I did have to fuel myself and show that I have to be out there.”

The Sour Lake, Texas, native hasn’t committed an error in his last 12 games and said the position change clearly helped his plate approach and focus, as the junior has hit 24-for-78 (.308) with 11 RBIs since the move to third March 25 at Western Kentucky.

Growing up in a family of three boys, and his father Roy playing ball, McLeod has always known he’s had to get what he wants out of the mud and has been willing to scrap for his right to be taken seriously.

He instantly connected with Louisiana Tech on his official visit and said it’s why he’ll never relent when it comes to playing like a junkyard dog should.

It’s personal.

“I’m never going to be the most athletic kid, the most talented kid on the field, so if I want to win and I want to win at the plate, I gotta be a junkyard dog,” McLeod said. “I gotta be a dog in the sense that I’ve got to get it done no matter what, no matter the circumstances.”