Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Devin Caldwell recently set the SIUE record for career home runs. His pair of home runs in games at Southeast Missouri State gave Caldwell 31 homers in four seasons.
EDWARDSVILLE – Devin Caldwell of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville baseball team is considered a skilled hitter. The outfielder sprays the ball to all fields.
The right-handed swinging Cougars’ senior, a Civic Memorial High graduate, has added another touch to his batting talents this season:
He has become more of a power broker, and that’s a blast for him.
Caldwell recently set the SIUE record for career home runs. His pair of home runs in games at Southeast Missouri State gave Caldwell 31 homers in four seasons. Tony Duenas previously held the school record with 30 home runs from 1984-87.
“I never thought about getting the record because I didn’t think of myself as a home-run hitter,” Caldwell said. “I’ve always been more of a line-drive hitter.”
Yet when Caldwell blasted his record-breaking home run against SEMO, he knew how much it meant to him. He became the school’s King of Clout.
“It was on my mind,” Caldwell said. “When I crossed home plate, it was a pretty cool feeling because my teammates were congratulating me.”
So was SIUE coach Tony Stoecklin, a Roxana High School product.
“Devin has come out and given everything he has for four years,” Stoecklin said. “He has been a great asset to the program and I couldn't be happier for him.
“When he gets a hold of one he certainly puts a charge into it.”
Caldwell’s charging the Cougars often this season and enjoying it immensely. Going into the past week, he had smacked eight homers, putting him among the Ohio Valley Conference leaders. He was hitting .271 with 16 RBIs in 29 games. No fewer than 17 of his 32 hits were for extra bases.
“I’ve hit home runs in the past,” said Caldwell, referring to his 10 four-baggers in 51 games last season. He hit seven in 55 games two years ago and six in 52 games his freshman season, when Caldwell batted .314.
He added, “But I feel a little stronger this season and I’m a year older. It’s my senior season and I want to go out with a good year. I want the team to be successful and it’d be great to get in the conference tournament for the first time.
“That would really be cool.”
The Cougars carried a 10-19 record into the week, yet they were 8-7 in the OVC and battling for third place. SEMO, which swept them in a three-game series in Cape Girardeau, sits atop the league standings.
“We hope to have a strong second half of the season, get in the conference tournament and try to do something,” Caldwell said. The OVC tournament winner automatically qualifies for the NCAA tourney. OVC teams will slug it out May 21-25 in Jackson, Tenn., in the conference affair.
That’s Caldwell’s immediate goal. He figures some postseason success would cap off a memorable career at SIUE.
“It was really a good choice for me,” Caldwell said of choosing the Cougars. “I’m glad I came here because I’ve had a great four years. I came here not knowing if I would be a starter, but then I started playing every day.”
He has patrolled right field for four years and has hit third and fourth in the SIUE lineup most of the time. “I know right field here like the back of my hand,” Caldwell quipped about Lee Field at the Simmons Complex.
Once he has finished his college career, the 5-foot-10, 188-pound Caldwell hopes he will get an opportunity to play pro ball. It’s his ultimate quest.
“I’m going to pursue it as long as I can and see if I can play somewhere,” said Caldwell, majoring in mass communications and criminal justice.