YEAR IN REVIEW: Locals experienced a range of emotions in ‘09

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Dutchtown’s baseball team celebrates Troy Lewis’ two-run home run in the Class 5A state championship game at A.B.?Netterville Park in Denham Springs in May. The Griffins fell to Northshore and finished with a 32-6-2 overall record.

Former LSU baseball player Buzzy Haydel experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows during his career as a Tiger.

Ascension Parish sports fans could relate to the former East Ascension High standout in 2009. The year in athletics took local athletes, coaches and supporters on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from the pain of tough losses to the indescribable joy of state championships.

There were changes in the coaching staffs at the area schools and every team suffered a tough loss along the way, a number of them in the postseason.

But it was also a season of unprecedented success. A parish school reached at least the playoffs in every sport, achieving many firsts along the way – from Dutchtown’s baseball team reaching the state final for the first time in Class 5A to Ascension Catholic’s softball team playing for their fourth state championship.

And as the final days of 2009 flew off the calendar, local athletes and teams leave us with one final emotion – the hope of more of the same in 2010.

1. Griffins’ baseball run ends in championship

Dutchtown returned to the LHSAA state tournament seeking its second state title ever and first in Class 5A in head coach  Chris Schexnaydre’s first full year at the helm. The Griffins won the District 6-5A title along the way defeating Destrehan in a playoff game for a 14-2 record.

Dutchtown opened the playoffs with victories over Assumption and  Hahnville before besting Destrehan in their fourth meeting of the year in the quarterfinals and Byrd in the semifinals at A.B. Netterville Field in Denham Springs. The Griffins’ season came to an end in the championship game with a 7-2 loss to Northshore to finish the season 32-6-2.

“It was a great run for us,” Dutchtown head coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “This is a special group of guys and they will go down in history as one of our finest teams we have ever had. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to get to this day.  You don’t just wake up and say this year we are going to play for a state championship. We had a special group this year that really got along and they were great to coach.”

The Griffins were led by District MVP Dillon Day along with Gold Glove Jesse Buratt, catcher Wesley Perkins, infielder Alex Millet and outfielders Damon Scanlan and Matt Willis. Freshmen infielder Troy Lewis earned state tournament MVP.

Ascension Catholic also advanced to the Class 1A quarterfinals for the second straight year after defeating White Castle and Country Day where they fell to state champion Northlake Christian to finish 20-11 overall.  The Bulldogs, under District 9-1A coach of the year Todd Landry  were led by MVP pitcher Charles Caballero and outfielder Ross Noel during an undefeated 8-0 district campaign

2. LSU,?Haydel claim Tigers’ sixth national championship 

Former East Ascension High School standout Buzzy Haydel capped his career at LSU by helping the Tigers to a 11-4 victory over Texas in the deciding game of the College World Series Championship Finals to finish with an overall record of 56-17. The Tigers won Game 1, 6-4, before falling to the Longhorns, 5-1, in Game 2.

LSU won its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title since 2003, posting a 20-10 league mark and then became the first league school since Alabama in 2002-03 to win consecutive SEC Tournament titles.

The Tigers defeated Southern, Baylor and Minnesota in regional play and swept Rice in the Super Regional before ousting Virgina and Arkansas in the World Series.

Haydel, who hit the last home run and registered the final out at Alex Box Stadium a year earlier and began his career in 2006, the first time the Tigers missed the postseason in 18 years, started six games as a senior at first base and also made nine appearances as a relief pitcher, including in the SEC Tournament championship game.

Haydel was named the grand marshal of the Ascension Christmas Parade and led the procession.

3. Ascension Catholic, St. Amant Sulphur bound

Ascension Catholic advanced to the Class 1A state final of the LHSAA Top 56 Fastpitch State Softball Tournament in Sulphur.

The Lady Bulldogs rode the arm of pitcher Ashlyn Grisaffe, who pitched 20 innings, striking out 24 and surrendering just 13 hits in a 24-hour span over the tournament. Ascension Catholic defeated Hanson Memorial to advance to Sulphur where they ousted South Cameron and Delcambre before falling to Ouachita Christian 3-1 in the final and finishing 20-14-1 overall under first-year head coach Darrell Landry.

“The kids played with all their heart and soul and we laid it on the line,” Landry said. “I appreciate all the effort and time they put into the program and they have a bright future in this world.”

District 9-1A co-MVP shortstop Allison Falcon along with infielder Ali Bouchereau, catcher Nancy Guillot, first baseman Annie Ourso and outfielders Alayna Falcon, Anna Lassere and Bailey Landry helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to a perfect district record.

St. Amant opened the season 21-0 but faltered late to finish second in District 6-5A play with a 7-3 record. However the Lady Gators, led by pitcher Aime Parent, infielders Bridget Buquoi, Kandace Boudreaux and Kelly Luquette, outfielder Melanie Parker and catcher Emily Douglas returned to the state tournament for the ninth consecutive year under head coach Scott Nielson after defeating Grace King and East Ascension before falling to Barbe in the quarterfinals to finish with a 29-5 overall record.

East Ascension also returned to the postseason under head coach Amy Pitre  and finished 19-12 overall behind pitchers Chelsea LeBlanc and Rachel LeCoq, catcher Tiffany Robinson and infielder Evan Babin.

4. Lady Griffins unblemished in district

soccer

For the second consecutive season Dutchtown won the District 6-I girls soccer title with a perfect record.

Led by overall MVP Chelsea Cruthirds, offensive MVP Lexi Gibbs, Rachel Jiminez, Annie Etzel and Lindi Robichaux, the Lady Griffins rolled through district play with a 10-0 mark before defeating Westgate and Dominican to advance to the Division I quarterfinals where they fell to state runner-up Fontainebleau to finish 24-4-2.

Both East Ascension and St. Amant also made the postseason. The Lady Spartans finished tied for second in district with a 7-3 record behind defensive MVP Alacey Monconduit, Claudia Flores, Caitlin Roddy and Arienne Ferchaud before finishing 13-7-2 overall after a first-round loss to Comeaux. The Lady Gators also tied for second with a 7-3 mark in district behind offensive MVP Joleigh Hartman, Lexi Crews and Dana Songe and finished 10-12-1 overall after falling to Byrd in the first round.

5. Spartans, Tigers basketball advance to quarterfinals

East Ascension and Donaldsonville both advanced to the quarterfinals of boys’ basketball postseason play, while St. Amant made the second round and Dutchtown was in the playoffs

The Spartans, a year removed from the Top 28 tournament, began the season with a 20-2 record under head coach Kenny Almond, including championships in the Gold Dome Classic and Spartan Classic, but faltered in District 6-5A play to finish a dismal 3-7. East Ascension recovered behind guard Quinn Coco to defeat Brother Martin and St. Thomas More in the playoffs before falling to state finalist Hahnville in the quarterfinals and finishing 28-10.

Donaldsonville split the District 7-2A championship with a 5-3 record under head coach Greg Hill and advanced past Pine Prairie and Pickering behind guard Kelvon Davis and forward Aikee Turner before falling to Springhill in the quarterfinals to finish 20-17 overall.

St. Amant opened the season by claiming the Tiger Classic title and finished in a tie for second in District 6-5A standings under head coach Gary Duhe with a 6-4 mark. The Gators defeated Hammond behind guard Brandon Morris and forward Rashaun Claiborne before falling to top seed Huntington in the second round to finish 23-11 overall.

Dutchtown finished 4-6 in district play under head coach Patrick Hill and advanced to the playoffs behind guards Earl Warren and Scott Burgess before falling to Carencro in the first round to finish 16-15.

6. St. Amant, Dutchtown track runner-ups

The St. Amant boys’ track team placed runner up to Catholic for the second consecutive year at the LHSAA Class 5A state track and field meet in April at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium under head coach Dwayne Thomassee despite only having three compete. 

Wayne Douglas won the triple jump and the 100-meter hurdles, while Brandon Morris was second in the triple jump and Chase Keller also provided a score in the high jump.

Dutchtown’s girls track team also placed runner up under head coach Bill Jones behind Baton Rouge. Maureen Gross won the state title in the discus, while April Tasker was second in both the triple jump and 100 meter hurdles. Shelby Jones, Ka’Nesheia Cobbins and Emily Rezac also provided points.

East Ascension’s Lynnika Pitts was a double winner claiming state titles in both the high jump and long jump, while Jasmine Briley won the 100 meter dash. 

Dutchtown’s Shaquille Brown also won the 800 meter run, while Richard Buckland scored in the discus.

Donaldsonville’s Justin Breaux won the 100 and 200-meter dashes in Class 2A and the Tigers’ relay team of Shaqueel Babin, Titus Howard, Tre` Brown and Breaux won the 2x200 meter relay. Also scoring for Donaldsonville was Jason Freeman and Devon Breaux as the Tigers took third place overall.

Ascension?Catholic’s Jace Schexnaydre also placed second in the Class 1A high jump. 

7. Donaldsonville, EA’s runs end in quarterfinals

Donalsdonville and East Ascension both advanced to the quarterfinals in girls’ basketball postseason.

The Lady Spartans claimed a share of the District 6-5A championship under head coach Dennis Chandler with a 9-1 mark and defeated St. Joseph’s Academy and John Ehret behind guards Kaneesha Grant and Alexis Ruth and center Josie West before falling to Walker in the quarterfinals to finish with an overall record of 22-5.

Donaldsonville, a year removed from a berth in the state final, won the District 7-2A title with an undefeated record under head coach Butch Little and defeated Rosepine and University behind guards Kendra Coleman and Kayla Mollere and center Laneisha Stephens before falling to defending state champion John Curtis in the quarterfinals to finish 26-4 overall.

Dutchtown, under head coach Annette Lowery also made the postseason after going 6-4 in district play behind swingman Ka’Nesheia Cobbins but fell to Dominican in the first round. 

Ascension Catholic also made the postseason under head coach Blair Bagala, claiming a share of the District 9-1A title behind guard Allison Falcon and center Krystal Knight.

8. Dutchtown,?EA advance to soccer playoffs

Dutchtown and East Ascension both advanced to the Division I playoffs.

The Griffins, the District 6-I champion with a 9-1 mark under head coach Larry Chambless, advanced to the quarterfinals with victories over Bonnabel and Terrebone behind MVP goalkeeper Ian Hanlon,  offensive MVP Drake Fruge` and Ricky Lawrence before falling to state champion Jesuit in the quarterfinals and finishing with a 23-6-1 overall record. 

The Spartans placed second in district standing under head coach Reuben Ruiz with an 8-2 record and defeated Grace King behind offensive MVP Samir Martinez, Carlos Hermosillo, Blake Parr and Justin Ruiz before falling to St. Paul’s in the second round to finish 19-7-2 overall.

9. Dutchtown, Donaldsonville advance to playoffs

Dutchtown and Donaldsonville both returned to the football postseason.

Dutchtown was 3-2 in District 6-5A under head coach Benny Saia and advanced to the playoffs behind defensive MVP Eric Reid, offensive lineman Colby Crysel, running back Effrem Reed, defensive lineman Aaron Davis and linebacker Landon Collins, where they fell to Comeaux in the first round.

Donaldsonville was 5-1 in District 7-2A under first-year head coach Terence Williams and advanced to the postseason behind running back Bryant Dunn, quarterback Devon Breaux, offensive lineman Dwight Wright, defensive lineman Henry Mitchell, linebacker Aikee Turner and defensive back Darvelle Allen before falling to Riverside Academy in the first round.

10. Post 81’s run ends in American Legion state title

Gauthier and Amedee advanced to the American Legion State Championship in Crowley under head coach Justin Morgan.

On the brink of elimination, Williams-Gautreau Post 81 won the Southwest Regional over Plaquemine Post 167 behind Britt Gautreaux and defeated Delhomme, Acadia, Crowley and Retif Oil behind Marcus Bailey, Matt Richard, Adam Trahan, Bradly Day, Lee Elisar and Jake Bordelon before falling to Peake BMW in the final to finish 25-7-1.

Lagniappe: St. Amant, the District 6-I champion under head coach Allison Didier Leake and MVP Kayla Young, and Dutchtown advance to the second round of the volleyball playoffs, Ascension Catholic makes the volleyball state tournament, Ascension Christian returns to volleyball playoffs, St. Amant’s Zach Eunice wins the Class 5A state wrestling title in the 140-pound weight class, Dutchtown’s Alyssa Dilldine places second in both the 500 and 200 meter freestyle at the   the Division I state  meet,   Hutchinson, Welch win Canal Bank Bass Bash Classic, The Gonzales Boat Club celebrates 50 years.

Buzzy Haydel, a member of LSU’s 2009 National Championship baseball team signs autographs before the Ascension Christmas Parade.