Friday nights are the new Sundays for pitcher Luke Barker.
In his five years with the Chico State baseball program, Barker has played a slew of roles, from the redshirted first-year to the experienced junior closer.
Now Barker has worked his way to the top of the totem pole with the Wildcats, taking on a bigger responsibility as the team’s Friday night starting pitcher.
Even though his duties have increased because of his new position, his feelings about his role within the team have stayed the same.
“I’m doing my job just like they are,” Barker said.
Barker is needed as the starting pitcher for now, said Dave Taylor, Chico State baseball’s head coach.
“Based on all of his experiences and everything that goes along with the responsibility of being a Friday guy — facing another team’s Friday guy, which is the best versus the best — we felt Luke was that guy,” Taylor said.
Barker has started the two Friday games that the Wildcats have played so far this season.
He pitched a full game against Cal State Stanislaus, leading the ‘Cats to a win in their conference opener.
Barker’s role on the team goes far beyond the mound, said Peter Miller, senior catcher.
Barker is a captain on the team who everyone looks up to as a major role model on and off the field, Miller said.
“He knows better than anyone about this program and the history we bring and what it means to wear Chico State on your chest,” he said.
His role as a veteran in the program is to teach the younger guys about the expectations of being a Chico State baseball player, Barker said.
“We expect to go to the World Series.” he said. “We expect to have success every day. My kind of job is just to help steer guys in the right direction.”
In terms of preparation and the hard work it takes to win, Barker said he is teaching the team the same way that his former teammates showed him how to in his first two years as a Wildcat.
Barker is an even bigger role model in the community because he was born and raised in Chico, Miller said.
“I will not be surprised if there are a bunch of kids who look up to him around here just because he’s from this town,” Miller said.
Barker is the complete package, having worked his way up the Chico State baseball ranks in order to get to where he is today, Taylor said.
“He’s a blueprint for what we want to bring in as a freshman,” he said.
Dylan Wakefield can be reached at [email protected] or @dylan_wakefield on Twitter.