Conrad Gayle knows all about winning. He has been around successful coaches and players for the past five years.

Conrad Gayle knows all about winning. He has been around successful coaches and players for the past five years.

Now, he’s taking that winning pedigree to an Ascension Christian program that is tired of hearing that they’re a year away. They’re hungry and ready to win right now.

The Lion baseball program is coming off of two straight playoff appearances under head coach Paul Burgard. In 2016, they finished with a tremendous 17-7 regular-season record.

However, Burgard and the school recently parted ways. The change presented an opportunity for Gayle that he couldn’t pass.

“The opportunity really fell into my lap. It was a good situation for me and my family,” Gayle said. “It’s only a two-minute drive from my house. I won’t have to go through the grind of having to coach both freshmen and JV games anymore, which is going to allow me to be able to enjoy more time being a dad and enjoying my family.”

Gayle has been an assistant coach at Dutchtown—under head coach Chris Schexnaydre—for the past five years. In that time, the Griffins won three district titles.

For the past two summers, Gayle has been the head coach of the Gauthier & Amedee American Legion baseball team. Both years, they reached the semifinals of the state tournament.

Gayle said that his experiences coaching at Dutchtown and in American Legion will pay dividends as he takes on his first high-school head coaching job.

“Being the coach at Gauthier & Amedee plays a big part, but being around Coach Chris Schexnaydre and his staff for so long, that has a lot to do with it, too,” Gayle said. “I can’t say enough about my experience there. It really prepared me for coaching kids on and off of the field. You’re not going to find many baseball programs better than the one [Coach Schexnaydre] has at Dutchtown. “And Ascension Christian is a growing program, so I’m not going to have to do a lot of tweaking. I’m going to do a lot of the things [Coach Schexnaydre] does. What I saw at Dutchtown is going to prepare me for what I’m going to see now in my first year here.”

Gayle said that he is excited about this upcoming season. He was able to meet with his players for the first time this week.

“This parish is filled top to bottom with great baseball players, from little league all the way to the high-school level,” Gayle said. “I’ve heard so many great things about the team. I hear that they have great leadership coming back. Last year, they hosted a playoff game for the first time in school history. So, there’s a lot of excitement coming into this season. They’re a hungry group.

“Coach Burgard did such a great job of building up the program, and they’re on the verge of competing. I think these guys are ready to get to that next step. That’s why I’m not going to have to change a lot. The talent is already there. We just have to turn that page.”

The cupboard surely isn’t bare for Gayle and the Lions. They will return multiple all-district performers that include: Peyton Bahlinger, Josh Diez, K’Von Delone, Josh Poirrier and Brendan Tramonte.

“I just want to get these guys hungry to get to that next level and compete for the district championship,” Gayle said. “High school is one of the funnest times of your life, so I want these guys to have fun and leave a name for themselves. We want to set the bar high and get the expectations high. The football program is having a great year. They’re doing a lot of great things, and we want that for the baseball program as well. In this parish, you have these big 5A programs, but we want to show that we play some great baseball in 1A, too.”

If Ascension Christian wants to capture a district title, they’ll have to go through defending champion Ascension Catholic. The Bulldogs took the crown last year on their way to a third straight state quarterfinal appearance.

Gayle said that his team will be up for the challenge.

“Ascension Catholic and St. John are the established programs in our district. They’ve been great for years. They’re the top dogs. We want to compete with them,” Gayle said. “It was the same thing when I was at Dutchtown. We had to compete against Catholic, St. Amant and EA each year. But we’re going to give them hell, and we’re going to get after it. They had a taste last year when they hosted a playoff game. Now they’re hungry for more.”