Given the overwhelming success of one J. Stanley 'Skip' Bertman -- reflected in five College World Series championships between 1991 and 2000 -- the former baseball pilot extraordinaire at LSU is also given credit for a sea of heightened interest in that sport created among the high schools in the greater Baton Rouge area.
St. Amant and East Ascension provide proof with a combined six state titles accumulated between 1991 and 2003.
Success, they said, trickled down.
Success, they said, became contagious.
Well, if what the college programs at LSU, Tulane and UNO have put forth this spring was again contagious, local high school baseball coaches would have been better served reaching for an antidote.
The uncharacteristic downward spirals in Baton Rouge, on Willow Street and at the Lakefront paralleled that of our seven-parish area which produced just one state baseball champion, Northlake Christian, and a meager four teams participating in seven state prep tournaments.
Nowhere was that abysmal showing more evident than at Tulane's Turchin Stadium, site of the Class 5A state tourney whose eight-team consisted of one local visitorÂ -- Brother Martin.
Not since the inception of the state event on the highest class in 1969 had the seven-parish area been represented by just one team.
Not since that inception had a local team failed to reach the semifinals, as Martin was ousted 4-2 by Dutchtown in the quarterfinals.
The Crusaders had a shot at a rare basketball-baseball state title sweep having captured the Top 28 Tournament in March. No local program had achieved that feat since De La Salle in 1962, seven years prior to staging the initial baseball event.
It is true that Tulane came within a hair of hosting an event made up of 50 percent local participation. Destrehan, Rummel and Jesuit were each stopped on the doorstep, falling short by a combined four runs. Destrehan fell to Central, 4-2; Rummel lost to Acadiana 3-2; and Jesuit was eliminated by eventual state champion Catholic of Baton Rouge, 9-8 in 10 innings. The No.1-seeded Bears would finish at 33-6 with their first baseball title.
Since losses by Jesuit and Rummel, the Blue Jays and Raiders have each undergone coaching changes. Tim Parenton stepped down at Jesuit to return to college coaching and was quickly and wisely replaced by Joey Latino, an on-staff hire with a proven record as head coach at Shaw.
At Rummel, David Baudry, the school's fourth head baseball coach, became the first to be dismissed when his contract was not renewed by Principal Thomas Moran and President Mike Begg. Assistant coach Steve Ceravolo, who many thought had been hired from Crescent City toÂ one day replace Baudry, did not have his contract renewed either. The torch was passed instead to 29-year-old Nick Monica, an assistant football and baseball coach for the Raiders.
Although no specific reason was spelled out by Moran, sources at the school indicate that a personality conflict and some parental discontent may have been major factors in the move after six years in which Baudryâ€™s teams reached the playoffs six times and captured an American Legion World Series championship in 2006.
â€œI really have not thought a lot about what happened,â€ Baudry said four days following his exit. â€I am just trying to get things in order. I have a wife and three kids so I need to go out and get a job.â€
Baudry is expected to interview this week at Hahnville as a possible assistant in baseball and football.
â€œThe thing I like about Hahnville is they play on Friday nights (football). The Catholic League schedule is an oddity with Saturday games and conflicts on Sunday that keep you from your kids.
â€œI am happy for Nick Monica. He is a wise choice. He has always been a local assistant here. IÂ remember the day he was born.â€œ
Baudry said that no additional information about the move has been forthcoming.
â€œMy emphasis as a coach -- which I learned from other coachesÂ -- is that my main job is to get my players ready to compete and make them better. Everything else is secondary. As for parental discord, thereâ€™s not a baseball coach in Louisiana who does not have 5 or 6 parents on one side who want to kill him and 200 on the other side who back him up. Parents spend a lot of money these days for clinics and instruction and for travel teams so they expect their Johnny to play.
â€œBut I really cannot tell you the reason for this. I just donâ€™t know. But I am sleeping well at night.â€œ
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