orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

June 24, 2013

Hicks’ star shining bright at ULL

Gabriel Pruett
The Orange Leader

BRIDGE CITY —

Everyone close to Bridge City baseball remembers the name Matt Hicks.

He is the young man who started at the varsity level the moment he was in high school and seemed to never leave the field.

He played shortstop, he pitched and by the end of his career he was one of the Cardinals top batters.

When Hicks did something special while wearing the red and white, nobody was ever surprise.

What might surprise Bridge City fans is Hicks is about to be a senior in college. He is the closer for the Ragin Cajuns team. The Ragin Cajuns went 43-20 this year after going 23-30 a year ago.

Hicks accomplished quite the feat this past year as he became the University of Louisiana-Lafayett’e all-time career saves leader. Hicks appeared in 30 games as a junior and had 11 saves while striking out 25 batters in 42.2 innings of work.

Yet once again Bridge City fans will remember Matt is not going to talk up Matt’s performances on the baseball diamond.

“Being the saves leader is cool but it means nothing if we are not winning,” Hicks said. “If we are winning is all that matters to me.”

Hicks has kept a busy schedule while at ULL. He will put in 160 hours of classes while also juggling being a part of the baseball team. He will graduate with degrees in Biology and Chemistry while also holding a minor in Psychology. 

So how does a young man do it? How does a 22-year-old keep up a high grade point average while also shining bright on the mound?

“It is all about timing,” Hicks said. “If you manage your time right you can do it. My coaches have been so supportive of my studies. There are a lot of times I do not get out of classes until 4 or 5  p.m. and cannot make practice. They know I am not lazy and I still work out and make sure to put in my time on the baseball field.”

Then Hicks also has to worry about road trips and games that take players away from classes for up to a couple of days.

“We are able to miss class but when something will be due is really on a teacher-by-teacher basis,” Hicks said. “The classes keep going and you are still responsible for notes and everything else. That is where networking comes in and you have to make friends with people who know what they are doing. Baseball is the easy part.”

Baseball has always been easy for Hicks. Hick was the MVP of the All-Orange Leader Baseball Team as a senior at Bridge City in 2009. He held a 1.16 ERA as a senior with 10 wins and 116 strikeouts. He threw a perfect game as a junior and had 136 strikeouts in 87 innings. Bridge City never missed the playoffs with Hicks in the roster.

Besides baseball, Hicks was the top male graduate in his class at Bridge City High School and he graduated as a Honor Society officer.

“The amount of work and dedication I have done in the classroom is what I am most proud of,” Hicks said. 

Hicks might become quite the mentor this upcoming season both on the field and off the field to another Bridge City graduate. Hayden Guidry is slated to join Hicks next year at ULL.

“Hopefully Hayden can be a big part of our success next year,” Hicks added. “We are not losing anyone from our starting nine and we are looking to build off this past year’s success. I hope he contributes and I look forward to seeing him again on the field.”

That spirit is definitely what Cardinals fans remember of Hicks. A young man ready to help instead of worrying about the “easy” game of baseball.