What makes a pitcher effective is his versatility, his focus and his adaptability. Belmont junior Dan Ludwig is no exception as he has not only mastered life on the mound but in the classroom as well.
Balancing the two has not been an easy task, but it is a challenge Ludwig eagerly accepts as a double major in history and sociology.
The Division I starter wanted a strong academic foundation to prepare him for law school, a decision that first came to him on his way to Nashville before his freshman year.
“I actually made that decision on the drive down to Belmont. I knew for a fact I didn’t want to be in business,” said Ludwig. “But when I’m preparing myself for after college, my workload is so high right now that maybe I won’t hit as hard a learning curve as someone that took just one major.”
While the junior originally entered Belmont as only a sociology major, Ludwig debated if he wanted to add history as a minor and taking miscellaneous survey courses to accompany it.
However, his strong interest in the subject and desire to take upper level history courses convinced Ludwig to go forward and adopt it as a second major.
“It essentially was I had an interest in history and would rather take upper level history classes,” he said. “It’s a whole lot of work especially at this point of the semester when I’m in the thick of it. I’m never bored that’s for sure.”
While the conference schedule and spring coursework start to peak around the same time, Ludwig said the coaches and Belmont do their best to help alleviate his busy schedule.
“They are really understanding that class comes first. I miss a good handful of practices due to class and they are perfectly fine with it. They understand that we have to graduate first,” Ludwig said.
Belmont coach Dave Jarvis said that while being a starting pitcher can be extremely busy, he gives credit to the athletic department and their help with all student-athletes at Belmont.
“I give a lot of credit to our academic support staff, Renee and the people in athletic department. They have started the guys on their path from the very beginning their freshman year.”
When the native of Naperville, Ill. was making his college decision, the higher level of athletic competition that Belmont faces supplemented his interest to come to the university.
“I knew baseball in the South was better college baseball. It’s higher level of competition and I wanted to engage in that,” he said.
Ludwig first gained attention from Belmont when his travel ball team competed down in Georgia. Jarvis said Ludwig’s execution on the mound in any pitch count was his biggest strength that impressed the coaching staff.
“He was a guy that pitched within his capabilities and didn’t try to over execute. He had tremendous control and command of where he was trying to throw the baseball,” Jarvis said. “All those things were interconnected and one helps the other.”
After several injuries depleted the starting rotation, the coaches moved Ludwig from a reliever to a starter and eventually switched the lefty from a midweek starter to playing in conference games during the weekend.
“It wasn’t as big of a switch as you think it would be. It’s just the added effect that those wins are a little more important,” Ludwig said. “You want to go out there and do the best for your team.”
By the end of his sophomore season, Ludwig picked up 11 conference wins to finish tied 15th nationally in wins among Division I pitchers. He also earned 72 strikeouts and went a team-high 94 innings.
“It was an outstanding season. I think because of the injuries it opened up an opportunity for him on weekends,” Jarvis said. “Dan has accepted many different roles in his time here and successful in each.”
In his appearances on the mound for Belmont, Ludwig has been known for his location in the strike zone and ability to trick opponents with his pitch variation.
For his arm to be more effective on the mound, Ludwig believes his fastball needs to be complemented by his other pitches.
“I have three other pitches: curveball, slider, change-up. My off-speed pitches are used to complement my fastball,” he said. “It just depends on how the game is going and what they are seeing or hitting.”
Ludwig’s versatility on the mound complements the complexity of his academic schedule, something Jarvis is quick to commend.
“His academic life is concerned and he’s able to balance that with the athletics. He’s highly driven and highly successful in both those areas,” Jarvis said.
“He’s a hard worker, high character guy, and all of that comes together.”