Close look at true relief: inside mind of Kaelin Woodard

Pitcher Kaelin Woodard throws a pitch in relief for the Grambling State University baseball team. Courtesy photo

Kaelin Woodard

Kaelin Woodard didn’t choose to be a pitcher, it chose him. 

“Being a pitcher to me is having the strongest mind and the most heart on the team,” Woodard,  a junior from Los Angeles, Calif. majoring in business management, said. “The game doesn’t go until you release the ball. I was a two way player before Grambling, which means I pitched and played a different position on the field which also means I used to hit too. I didn’t choose to be a pitcher until it was brought upon me by my scoutball coach from the SoCal White Sox and he stated ‘What if you had to put the bat down to get a scholarship to play DI baseball?’ I answered yes I would and that is how I became a pitcher only here.” 

Woodard’s role on the Grambling State University baseball team is a relief/set up pitcher. 

“I come out the bullpen when the starter is tired and/or gets into some trouble and it needs to be cleaned up,” Woodard said. “What separates me from other players is my mentality and how I plan to control the game when I come in. A unique thing about me pitching is I throw a knuckleball which not many pitchers throw and it gets the batters’ off balance sometimes to a point where they don’t swing.” 

Woodard was discovered and quickly offered when playing for a scout ball team at the time called the SoCal White Sox, but now known as the West Coast Braves. 

After he got offered, he then was in contact with Coach Pierre to schedule a time where he would come down to Grambling for his official visit. 

Woodard said he is unlike the average first year college student. 

“Adjusting to my first year of college wasn’t a problem,” Woodard said. “I didn’t get homesick or anything. Classes went smooth, wasn’t stressful at all. Being a DI athlete is the highest level of college sports and coming from high school into it made me change my mindset to know I can’t get away with certain aspects in DI ball that I could in high school baseball.” 

Woodard has a busy schedule that must be maintained at all times. 

“A typical day as a student athlete would be weights in the morning, class both in the morning and afternoon and then practice in the evening,” Woodard said. “Depending on the day of the week it can get rough, but some days are easier than others.” 

He also admitted the most challenging part of being a student athlete is having to catch back up in class after being on the road for away games. 

As a freshman in 2016, Woodard looked up to two upperclassmen players, Tanner Raiburn and Issac O’Bear. They were the 2017 season Friday and Saturday game day starters. 

“(They were) two different dynamic players, but both had so much to teach,” Woodard said. 

Woodard enjoys baseball, but warns it’s not easy. 

“The game doesn’t just come to you, you really have to show some grit in this sport because if you don’t it will eat you alive,” Woodard said. 

Woodard said he has created some great memories as a GSU pitcher. 

“My favorite past memory is my sophomore season getting my first college save at home against ULM ( University Louisiana Monroe),” Woodard said. “I came in the game after one of our pitchers got hurt during his outing and I shut the game down when ULM thought they were going to come back and beat us. We won that game 7-5.”  

Outside of baseball, is a burgeoning chef and said he is so confident in his cooking that he would open up his own restaurant if he could. In his free time, he likes to go to trampoline parks, paintballing and bowling of which he used to participate in league games. 

After graduation, Woodard plans to pursue a career in the real estate and become a broker.