The outgoing senior class at Vandebilt Catholic left some big shoes to fill with regard to the school’s baseball program.
With annual post-season appearances each year under their watch, including a trip to the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A LHSAA Playoffs this past season where they fell one run shy of reaching the semifinals, the seven players who made up Vandebilt’s senior class are sure to be missed.
Those players were: catcher Kevin Guenoit, first baseman/pitcher Chase Hawthorne, pitcher/first baseman Grant Bergeron, second baseman Jared Bigler, shortstop Jordan Bergeron, pitcher/third baseman Garrett Louviere, and centerfielder Cade Matherne.
The Terriers are hoping their next wave of talent will be every bit as fruitful as the old guard.
The school is spending the summer getting its younger, less experienced players more reps with the hopes that they’ll be ready to step up by next spring when a new season rolls around.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys,” said Vandebilt baseball coach Corey Sullivan, who also coaches the Terriers’ annual Swampland League team. “I made a comment that a lot of them ain’t shaved yet. But we’re young and we’re looking for guys to fill some spots. I think this team is going to continue to improve. They’re fairly talented. We’re going to get there, it’s just going to take some time.”
Time is the one thing schools have plenty of this time of year. The Swampland League, which began in late May, is a month-long summer ball league where area schools compete against each other. The hope is that players who still have eligibility left – particularly young underclassmen – will take advantage of the opportunity to gain some experience and hone their skills.
This month, Vandebilt’s players are also competing in a summer travel-ball league. The team competed in a tournament in Pensacola, Florida, over the weekend against other schools from the southeast.
“The summer is really a good evaluation time,” Sullivan said. “I think you get a gauge on the players, and a lot of these guys, they just haven’t had many reps. They just need more game experience. But you see their ability and things like that.”
What the Terriers are hoping to develop the most this time of year is pitching.
To that end, left-hander James Smith has been a standout on the mound this summer, and in a recent Swampland game against South Lafourche’s team, he worked out of trouble early and kept the Terriers in the game – which eventually ended in an 8-8 tie after seven innings.
“He’s going to be a senior next year, but he has a world of potential,” Sullivan said of Smith. “I lost some good arms this year, but all of my pitchers can throw strikes and that’s a plus.”
Of the position players that have stood out, third baseman Matt Ledet and catcher Parker Duplantis are starting to develop nicely, Sullivan said.
Duplantis will be a sophomore next year after spending the past season on the school’s junior varsity team and as a backup to Guenoit. Ledet will also be a sophomore and is returning after playing around the Terriers’ infield last season.
Both players acknowledge that it won’t be easy replacing a senior class as talented as Vandebilt’s most recent one, but they feel up to the task.
“The seniors last year really helped us out and showed us how it was all ran,” Duplantis said. “The seniors left some big shoes for us to fill and it’s going to be difficult to replace them, but I think we have the talent in order to do it.”
“It’s going to be really hard to replace those guys,” Ledet agreed. “They were really good, but we’re going to work as hard as we can. It’s been different at times (playing without them), but it doesn’t mean we’re not up for the challenge.”
Vandebilt was scheduled to continue Swampland play this week with games against H.L. Bourgeois’ team on Tuesday and E.D. White Catholic’s squad on Wednesday.
Results from Tuesday’s game against H.L. Bourgeois was unavailable at press-time.
2014 Swampland Standings
Central Catholic – 2-0
Central Lafourche – 1-0
E.D. White – 1-0
Terrebonne – 3-1
Morgan City – 2-1
South Terrebonne – 1-1
Patterson – 1-3
South Lafourche – 0-1-1
Vandebilt – 0-1-1
Assumption – 0-0
Houma Christian – 0-2
HLB – 0-2
Berwick – 0-2