TCU’s Luke Savage battled season threatening injury to get to College World Series

TCU relief pitcher Luke Savage tossed two scoreless innings in a 3-2 loss to West Virginia on April 1, 2022. (Photo courtesy of

By Charles Baggarly

In March, TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos shared a hug with Luke Savage, who had a tear in his eye. 

Saarloos, reflecting on the moment, said the team thought Savage’s season was over due to a shoulder injury.

“It was really tough to get that information and kind of have that settled in for a week,” Savage said. “To think I probably wouldn’t pitch again for TCU is something that was devastating.”

Savage was out of action for a month. Eventually, the veteran reliever received unlikely good news: there was a chance to get back on the field.

“We just gave him a little bit of time off,” Saarloos said. “And, you know, credit to [Savage]. He wasn’t done. He wanted to come back, and so we gave him the time to do that. He slowly started feeling better and better and threw a couple of bullpens. We’ve kind of slowly ushered him back in and, you know, we’re not here if it isn’t for Luke [Savage].”

Savage said the injury put things into perspective and the rehabilitation process was tough. He wanted to help his teammates but had to be patient.

“Just as a competitor, anybody wants to be out there and be able to help the team win,” Savage said.

On April 18, 2023, Savage made his long-awaited return from injury against Lamar, tossing one scoreless inning. He said the day was a special experience.

Three months later, the Fayetteville All Regional Team reliever is playing a pivotal role in the Horned Frogs’ College World Series run. In postseason play, Savage has allowed three earned runs in 13 ⅓ innings pitched.

“It hasn’t been easy, you know, and he’s had to fight through some things,” Saarloos said. “In terms of what he’s done for our pitching staff and our bullpen to be able to take the ball, really, in a lot of big games and just finish out games has been huge.”

Savage said he wouldn’t trade the challenging journey “for the world.”

A staple in the Horned Frogs’ bullpen

For the 2023 season, Savage leads the team with a 2.50 ERA. Opposing players have a .194 batting average facing the junior right hander, who stymies batters with overhand and sidearm delivery; he has a variety of pitches, including a fastball that reaches 95 miles per hour and a mid 80s slider.

Savage said he tries to get ahead in counts and use the lessons from his coaches to provide TCU with an opportunity to win.

“Not doing anything special,” Savage said. “Just get ahead and let the defense work because we’ve got some great guys behind me.”

In Savage’s career as a Horned Frog, he’s tallied a 2.76 ERA. In 2022, he was named a member of the All-Big 12 First Team.

For the first time, Savage is competing in the College World Series, a place he’s worked with his teammates to reach during his three year collegiate career.

“[The College World Series] is something you dream of the whole time you’re here,” Savage said. “Now, to be here with all these guys, it’s pretty awesome.”

Savage said he’s incredibly proud the team made it to Omaha, Nebraska. Of course, the accomplishments are important, but Savage tends to stay in the moment and focus on the little things.

“Going out to practice with the guys and just being able to hang out,” Savage said. “I think it’s the things you will remember.”

Bigger than baseball

Savage said he wants to be remembered as a good pitcher and a good teammate. Leaving a legacy off the field, however, is just as important.

On Thursday, Savage was named the recipient of the Elite 90 Award, which is given to the College World Series athlete with the highest GPA; Savage, a political science major, has a 3.972.

In 2021, Savage founded Blessed Feet, a nonprofit organization that supplies baseball cleats to athletes who don’t have proper footwear or no footwear. He said he has a duty to use his platform to help others.

The organization received its name from Romans 10:15, a bible verse: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”

“Blessed feet is probably what I’m most proud of,” Savage said. “Being able to give back to those who might not have as much as we do. And just really being able to pour back into the community is something I really enjoy.”

On July 23, 2023, Blessed Feet will head to the Dominican Republic to drop off cleats, some of which are customized. 

“So, we’ll run a camp down there and some tournaments and so we’ll be able to give back there,” Savage said. “We’re really excited for that just to be able to keep developing those relationships.”

The organization collected shoes at multiple events, including the College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field and TCU baseball’s matchup against UT Rio Grande Valley at Lupton Baseball Stadium.

If TCU continues to win, Savage will be in Omaha during Blessed Feet’s trip overseas. He’s excited for the organization he founded; his focus is on competing in the College World Series.

“To be able to go out there and just hopefully give your team a chance to win is really awesome,” Savage said.