ESJ senior I’Leke Brown leading Wildcats on, off baseball field

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RESERVE — He might be 5-foot-6 and he might way 150 pounds fully clothed and soaking wet, but I’Leke Brown still stands out on the East St. John baseball field.

One of eight seniors and a four-year player, Brown plays many roles for the Wildcats. He’s one of the team’s top pitchers and hitters. When he’s not on the mound, he is a stellar center fielder. More than any of that; however, Brown is a leader on and off the field.

“He leads by example,” East St. John coach Jade Falgoust said. “He’s never late. He always gets his work done. He doesn’t mess around. Any time the rest of the kids don’t know what to do, they look to him.”

Well, they might have to look down to him to look up to him.

“He’s not going to pass the eye test,” Falgoust joked. “I’ve had people ask if he’s a freshman, he’s so little.”

Brown insists he does eat.

“I just have a high metabolism,” he said.

Nor does it bother him when people tease him about his diminutive size.

“I’ve always been the little guy,” he said.

That’s because he’s always been a pretty good baseball player. It was his dad, Ike Brown, who got him started in baseball when he was 5 years old in Garyville.

“I loved it,” he said. “It’s all I wanted to do.”

He started pitching when he was 8.

“I was playing for the 9- and 10-year-old team at the time,” he said.

Brown also knows his limitations. He knows he’s not the kind of pitcher who will overpower hitters with a blazing fastball. He has to use his finesse pitches.

“My change-up is my best pitch,” he said. “I can’t throw that hard. I know how to locate the ball.  I hit my spots. That’s what makes me hard to hit.”

Brown had a stellar outing against Ruston, in which he struck out nine in a 3-2 loss. In a 3-2 victory over Covenant Christian, Brown gave up five hits as the Wildcats took a 6-3 win.

He also had 3-2 lead against Lutcher when he reached his pitch count and Falgoust pulled him.

Lutcher scored three runs in the seventh inning to win 5-3. Brown did not take the hill Saturday against Destrehan, but he did make a diving catch to rob a hit in the second inning.

“I read the ball off the bat,” he said. “I knew right where it was going.”

It hasn’t always been easy to be a member of the East St. John Wildcats, Brown said.

Falgoust, who took over the team this season, is Brown’s fourth coach in four years.

The once-storied program has not made the playoffs since 2007.

“Our goal is to let people know that East St. John still has a baseball program,” Falgoust said. “It used to be known as a baseball school. We can get it back to where it once was.”