MSU's Voit Carries 'Tools of Toughness'

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Bears catcher Luke Voit plays baseball's toughest position.

And he can handle it.

His freshman year he took his place behind the dish after a season-threatening injury took place on the bases.

"He literally went back out on the field with a completely torn ligament in his thumb," said Coach Keith Guttin. "And I had to argue with him to get him off the field."

Said Voit: "I couldn't even catch. I couldn't squeeze my glove I'm a gamer I want to stay in."

Guttin finally got his way. And in doing so, learned a little something about his rookie back stop.

"Very physically tough," Guttin said. "And that toughness commands a lot of respect."

Voit missed 21 games. But he came back and pieced together a solid freshman and sophomore campaign. In the two years he racked up 20 doubles, 11 homers, and drove in 64 runs.

"He gives you good at bats," said Guttin. "He's been a run producer for us. He's been a middle of the order guy for four years."

Before all that, Voit grew up in Lafayette, playing at the same high school that claims David Freese along with former Bear Ryan Howard.

After his junior season he made a life changing switch from corner infield -- to catcher.

After originally committing to a John A. Logan, a junior college, Division I offers came in from MSU and Wichita State. And he was selected in the 32nd round by the Kansas City Royals, but didn't sign.

"I wasn't ready yet," Voit said. "I was immature. [It was] too much. I was 18, I just really hadn't learned too much about catching yet."

He decided to hone his new craft in Springfield.

"It was really tough," he said, "but I'm happy with the decision I made."

So are the Bears.

Last year Voit set career highs with a .298 average and 46 RBI. He had 110 total bases in 62 games.

But over the back half of the season, pain developed in his throwing shoulder.

"I honestly couldn't even throw the ball back to the pitcher," he said. "It hurt that bad."

Voit was playing with a torn labrum. Still, he caught the Valley tournament. But was relegated to designated hitter for the Bears NCAA trip.

"I couldn't catch them with all the experience of games we went through all year," said Voit. "It's just frustrating."

The injury was frustrating for another reason. Voit had expected to be drafted again, after a great junior season.

"It's part of life I guess," he said. "You've just got to come back up fighting strong. I'm hoping to have another good year this year."

So far so good. Entering the weekend the 6-foot-4, 225 pound senior is hitting just below .300 and is on pace for most of last year's numbers.

"Everything feels great," Voit said. "I think a month ago I probably felt 100 percent."

Certainly no getting Voit off the field now.

"It'd be a major argument for him not to catch, for sure," said Guttin. "He wants to be out there. And we need him back there."

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