College Baseball

THE CHAMP

Former Cinco Ranch standout Henderson leads McLennan to national title

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 6/11/21

Barely a year removed from thwarting Katy ISD batters, Katy native and freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Henderson pitched McLennan Community College to a 7-3 win over Central Arizona to help the Highlanders take the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship on June 4 in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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College Baseball

THE CHAMP

Former Cinco Ranch standout Henderson leads McLennan to national title

Posted

Barely a year removed from thwarting Katy ISD batters, Katy native and freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Henderson pitched McLennan Community College to a 7-3 win over Central Arizona to help the Highlanders take the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship on June 4 in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The former Cinco Ranch standout was named Outstanding Pitcher and Tournament MVP after striking out 17 batters and surrendering one run in eight innings for McLennan’s first national title since 1983.

And through the celebratory dinner awarded by players’ parents at The Backyard restaurant upon the team’s return three days later in Waco, and even when Henderson arrived back home in Katy early during the afternoon of June 9, it was all still so surreal.

“I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet,” Henderson said. “I’m just still trying to enjoy it. It’s the best experience I’ve ever had.”

It’s a far cry from this time last year. Henderson’s long-term college baseball future was undecided. His senior season at Cinco Ranch had been canceled after 15 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d been playing with those guys my entire life and I knew we would be going out on a good run,” Henderson said of the Cougars’ 13-1-1 start. “I thought we’d make a good run at state, and it just stinks the way it turned out. We didn’t know when our last game was going to be together.”

Henderson played two varsity seasons with the Cougars, primarily as a relief pitcher. He was 4-2 in 17 appearances with six starts and threw two no-hitters. In 44 total innings as a Cougar, Henderson, a first-team all-district selection his senior year, allowed 2o hits with 71 strikeouts to 16 walks. He surrendered just 11 earned runs.

And while he was a success on the field, it was what he learned off it under coach Brett Wallace that prepared him for the next level.

“Coach Wallace flipped the program and started a winning tradition again,” Henderson said. “He changed the culture, and that was big for me as far as getting used to winning and doing whatever it takes to win. Cinco was big as far as my development and getting me where I am now.”

‘Now’ is headed to play for Texas A&M, where Henderson committed to in October. He will arrive in College Station a better pitcher. A champion.

Henderson went 10-2 for McLennan this season, allowing 50 hits with 169 strikeouts to 23 walks in 97.2 innings. He had an ERA of 1.66.

With the help of pitching coach James Leverton and strength and conditioning coach Peter Stark, Henderson refined his ways. Command of his fastball improved, as did movement on his changeup. He put on more muscle to endure more innings.

But it was mentally that made the biggest difference, as Henderson, skilled enough to right away become one of the Highlanders’ top arms, had to adjust on the fly to being a starter opposed to a reliever.

“My prep leading up to starts changed a lot, as far as more time in the weight room and not throwing as much and just being mentally prepared,” Henderson said. “Coach Leverton gave me the idea of treating my starts like I was coming out of the bullpen. I shortened up my throwing before starts so I’d have more energy. I learned to be aggressive from the first pitch. Those first outs are just as important as the last outs. Keeping that aggressive mentality worked out for me.”

Henderson started McLennan’s College World Series run striking out 14 and allowing five hits in eight innings in a 7-0 win over Florence-Darlington Technical College on May 29.

“We knew if we kept winning, after that first start, I was aligned to start the championship game,” Henderson said.

He did, going up against Central Arizona, the defending champion, on six days of rest. In front of a crowd of almost 11,000 at Suplizio Field, Henderson worked to get his emotions under control.

The first couple of innings, Central Arizona worked counts well and got runners on base. But after the second inning, Henderson said his nerves settled. He gave up a solo home run in the fourth, but Central Arizona hardly threatened the entire night. That homer was one of two hits Henderson surrendered all game.

“This is the first time in my life that I ended a season on a win,” Henderson said. “Not many people get to experience that. I just want to keep winning. That’s the plan.”

Henderson still intends to play for A&M—having fallen in love with the atmosphere, baseball program and the school—despite the Aggies undergoing a coaching change in recent days.

Out is coach Rob Childress, whose contract was not renewed after the Aggies missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Henderson credits Childress for doing a good job recruiting him. The new leader for A&M baseball is decorated TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, who led the Horned Frogs to five trips to the World Series in his 18 years in Fort Worth.

“As of right now, I’m still committed,” Henderson said. “I’m still trying to soak in this national championship and all that. It was a tough goodbye with all my teammates and coaches. I haven’t thought too much about (the coaching change), but we’ll see in the next couple of weeks here.”

In the meantime, Henderson plans to lose body fat and gain more muscle mass this offseason by better handling his nutrition and work in the weight room. After a season like the one he just enjoyed, there is no telling how high his ceiling is.

“I don’t think I could’ve written up a better season than I had,” Henderson said. “To win the national championship was the main goal, and we did that. To be playing our best baseball at the end of the year was awesome. Personally, I’m just happy with the season I had. I had a lot of help and support from the coaches up there. They developed me into the player I am right now.”

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