The baseball program at Terrebonne High has a reason to be optimistic going forward.
With a 5-3 victory over Jester’s Court (Central Lafourche) last week in the annual Swampland League Championship Game played at Berwick High, Terrebonne’s Swampland team (the Diamondbacks) took home its first ever championship in the league’s 10-year history.
The Diamondbacks finished the season 12-4 overall. They made the playoffs as a No. 3 seed and defeated the Swampland teams of both Vandebilt Catholic (Robichaux Ford) and E.D. White Catholic (Synergy Bank) to advance to the league’s championship game.
Once there, the Diamondbacks got out to a 5-1 lead and never looked back.
The team got a big hit early on from incoming freshman Mason Turner and took advantage of several Jester’s Court errors later on to break things open and essentially put the game out of reach.
All the while, Diamondbacks starter Brett Bergeron was outstanding. The right-hander, who will be a junior next season, pitched five innings and limited Jester’s Court to one run on six hits while striking out two batters.
The Diamondbacks also played great defense behind him, particularly midway through the game.
With Central Lafourche threatening a rally in the fifth inning, Diamondbacks outfielder Austin Bollinger made a catch on a fly-ball in right field and then threw a strike to home plate to prevent a Trojans runner from scoring from third base.
The play was perhaps the highlight of the game, and afterward Bollinger said he had ran the play over in his mind before the ball was even hit to him.
“In my head before it even happened, I was expecting the ball to get hit to me because I knew the situation,” said Bollinger, who is also the Diamondbacks’ ace pitcher and was an All-State selection in Class 5A last season.
“I knew that that was a big run for them and that if they scored it, they would have a lot of momentum. I was expecting the ball to come to me and when it was hit, I was just making sure I stayed behind the ball and got a good jump on it to come to throw home, and I delivered a good throw. Luckily our catcher did a good job blocking (the plate) and putting the tag on him.”
The play helped the Diamondbacks keep momentum on their side, and Bollinger would later come in to pitch the seventh inning to close out the game.
Diamondbacks assistant coach Jamie Delahoussaye, who served as the team’s acting head coach during the championship game and has been on the Terrebonne coaching staff for many years now, said that winning the Swampland was a special feeling for himself and the team.
He also noted the significance of winning the league from a competitive standpoint.
“For the past 10 years now, whoever has won this championship has been known to make a good run in the playoffs (the following year),” said Delahoussaye. “We told our guys after the game that even though we won this, everybody else in our district is going to be coming after us so we have to work extra hard this off-season to get better before the spring.”
Terrebonne will face plenty of competition all right, and not just from the fellow Swampland participants in their district like Central Lafourche, Thibodaux and South Lafourche, but from the River Parish schools within the district – namely Hahnville and last year’s 7-5A champion, Destrehan.
Last season, local teams in the 7-5A district struggled to compete with the new additions from the River Parishes, as Destrehan (13-1 district) and Hahnville (12-2) ran away with the region.
It will be a tough challenge again next year, but Terrebonne players feel they’re up for it, said Bollinger. The left-handed pitcher/outfielder says he believes the strong summer his teammates had will only strengthen them next season.
“We’re a really strong and sound defensive ball-club, our hitting is going to come around and I think we can really compete with anybody next year,” said Bollinger. “Last year, Destrehan won (district) but we were in it every game with them. I think we’re going to hold our own.”
Bergeron agreed, saying there was an added sense of excitement in the program now after winning the Swampland. Terrebonne players will hope that momentum can carry over into the regular season. The Tigers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006, but they finished 17-12 overall last year, which would have been good enough to make the postseason in many other districts.
“We’re ready for the regular season to roll around,” Bergeron said. “We know we’ve got a couple of seniors that really want to make the playoffs. I’m with them and we’re going to do everything it takes to make the postseason this next year. It’s been awhile since we made it.”
For his part, Terrebonne head coach Gus Brown, who last spring wrapped up his fourth season at the school, said he has a great feeling about the direction the Tigers are headed in as well.
The Tigers’ Swampland roster featured eight players – Bollinger, Devin Malbrough, Luke Bergeron, Gage Veron, Derrick DeHart, Doyle Donaldson, Jalen Williams, and Joseph Verdin – that will be seniors next season, plus three more who will be juniors, including Brett Bergeron and first baseman Jeffrey DeRoche.
Brown also has high hopes and praise for an incoming freshman class that he said has already contributed to the program by making an impact during the Swampland season. Those players include second baseman Mason Turner, outfielder/third baseman Brennon Guidry and hitters Jace Gatlin and Cullen Boudreaux.
“We’re happy with our seniors and have a small junior-sophomore class, but I’m real happy with the freshmen that’s coming in,” said Brown. “We have a good mixture of guys. We had a couple of young guys that stepped up this summer who are going to be ninth graders.
“It just gives me a great feeling,” Brown added. “We were able to win some close games this summer. We were in a lot of close games against some really good teams around the area. It’s definitely good to get some competition so that we can get some experience. The guys are all pumped up. Now we want them to hit the weight room and just get stronger as a group.”
The Terrebonne High School Swampland baseball team poses for a photo after taking home the 2014 championship. The team, dubbed annually as the Diamondbacks, overcame all obstacles and outlasted the Central Lafourche team to take home the title. That’s a good omen for Terrebonne, as summer success usually bleeds into the next season.