For the senior athletes who played baseball in 2020, there is nothing to do. A pandemic closed its season before it had barely begun.
Although this loss for them probably still lingers, there is a future for those who return in 2021. Baseball is back. High school sports returned to Louisiana during the fall, and this spring’s boys expect to return to the diamond again.
The St. Thomas Falcons – who managed to play 13 games before the season was stopped and even planned a double header the last day of play – finished 8-5 and said goodbye to four senior beginners who helped lead the team to a semi-final playoffs in 2019.
“With the guys seeing that something can be taken away, they have learned to appreciate the chance to go to training,” said head coach Cole Catalano. “They no longer treat it as a job, but see it as an opportunity. While no one sees much good with a pandemic, it is a good thing to learn not to take the things we love for granted. ”
“When we were closed in the spring and summer, and we did not know what we could be able to do as a team, or when, I had no worries that this group would do things on their own to be ready,” he said. he to. “They like to work. Whether just throwing a ball around in the backyard or finding a percussion cage that may be available, the guys found ways to work on their game and stay in shape.
“As coaches, we are most proud of their mental toughness working on their game, as there was no promise that they would play again anytime soon,” he said.
STA senior Hunter Michel said: “The guys kept in touch before we were able to practice again as a group. Usually a couple of us got together and threw a ball and practiced the basics, but if not, I would throw a ball with my dad and I ran around my street to keep fit. “
Falcon senior Casey Artigues agreed: “We are just happy to be back there and start working again.”
Since 2014, the Falcon baseball program has collected a record 163-49 (a winning percentage of .768), amassed a state championship, a state trophy trophy and a state semifinal appearance, and two quarter-final playoffs. Key players from these days are gone. Two big first-year classes have made the team the last two years, and only three seniors are in this year’s squad.
“I challenge our guys all the time to establish their own identity,” Catalano said.
Catalano considers it a plus that he and his coaching staff including Gabe Woods and Brandon Efferson played at Southeastern.
“All my coaches have the same philosophy and approach, so it helps us to be able to put this into our players and challenge them to develop that identity so that they can put their own stamp on the program,” he said.
Senior Jaden Collura, who joined the St. Thomas Aquinas during the fall, will play baseball next season at Nicholls State University.
He joins the Falcons as an established catcher, a position often associated with “doing the dirty work and a proper paint job”, but Collura has embraced the position and joins a team with another good catch and hitter, junior Jordan Trapani . The two are expected to share responsibilities and thus be better able to stay healthy.
“It’s not often you have two good catchers who can hit the same team, so we as a coaching team have quality depth,” said Catalano.
“Growing up, I was always an older kid, and I played first and hit from the left side,” Collura said. “When I played ball at a certain level, no one really wanted to be the catcher, so I wanted to show that I could do it. It is one of the most difficult positions to play well. ”
Falcon fans will see some new faces take the lead on the mound this season.
“We have some guys like Layton Pittman and Hayden Aspiron who have beaten for us, and they looked at the guys before them like Blanchard and Stewart, and now that the guys are gone, it’s time to record,” Catalano said. “I think Layton is ready, and Hayden got a lot of work last season. We have Dane Watts on the left who can help us. We have a lot of boys growing up who we think can help us on the mound …. All our guys want a role whether it’s throwing five rounds, or one, or coming in just to get one out. ”
“We will be able to score races this year,” Catalano continued. “Outside the bat in the lineup, we have three left who come to the plate who can really hit the ball. … So one to nine, we have some guys who can really swing it. You add all the depth we have among our younger players who sit there at ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and wait for their opportunity, and you can get excited for this group on the plate. ”
“From catch to midfield, we look good. We are blessed to have two catchers, a senior on short and a midfielder starting his third year as a junior. The best thing is that we have depth behind them and other sophomores and juniors who have appeared as starters or will get a lot of playing time, “he said.
“With almost forty players on the team this year, I told the coaches the other day that this year it is not so much that we will train a team this year as leading a team,” added Catalano. “Putting guys in the right situations and at the right times will be the key to our success.”
This year’s Falcon team has several two and even three athletes. Junior Drew Milton plays football and basketball and was recently named District MVP quarterback. Juniors Asprion and Watts played football this school year, and both served all-district. Seniors Artigues and Collura played football and basketball, respectively, and both are on their way to playing college baseball.
“The mental mindset of basketball and all the races you do is useful to me when I play baseball,” Collura said. “You get tired of the whole run, and you learn to push through the pain of the moment and keep going. The fraternity that I have played basketball with this year is something I can transfer to baseball. ”
District 10-2A was expanded last season from four to six teams, including newcomers Pope John Paul II and Northlake Christian.
“Every chance you get, you have to go out and compete, and we’ve always had a big rivalry with teams like Springfield and Doyle,” said Catalano. “Many of the players know each other on these teams, and it brings out the juice when they play each other.
“The reality is that you really can not count anyone in this district from game to game. “Northlake has a great tradition, and the French Settlement still has a solid core since they reached the quarterfinals in 2019 and Pope John Paul is building a good program,” he said. “Baseball is a straightforward and unpredictable game, so anyone can beat you.”
Baseball is back with a future.