It was a year of excellence is Ascension Parish
Last week, spring football came to a close, and the week before, the baseball state championships wrapped up.
As those sports fade away, so does the 2017-18 year in high-school athletics. Sadly, we’ll now have to sit around for three months waiting for football and volleyball to kick off the new season in prep sports.
I know it’s dull, but it at least gives us a chance to sit back and reflect on what has been one of the most successful athletic seasons Ascension Parish has seen in a long time.
Three parish teams brought home state championships. Two finished as runners-up, and two others reached the state semifinals. What a year.
The 2017-18 athletic season began with a tremendous performance from the Ascension Catholic football team.
Under third-year head coach Drey Trosclair, the Bulldogs had one of the best seasons in their program’s history as they finished 8-2 and only got stronger in the playoffs.
Ascension Catholic laid waste to the competition and reached the Division-IV state title game. It was their first state championship appearance since 1992.
Unfortunately, many of the Bulldogs’ top players sustained injuries before and during the championship contest. With so many starters missing, Ascension Catholic had to settle for runner-up after a 10-0 loss to Lafayette Christian.
In volleyball, St. Amant endured many challenges throughout the year.
Despite a young and inexperienced roster and multiple injuries to starters, the Lady Gators still found a way to win a share of the district and punch their ticket to yet another state tournament. Their journey ended in the quarterfinals.
The St. Amant soccer programs had even more success.
The girls missed out on winning back-to-back district championships, but they rebounded in a big way come playoff time.
The Lady Gators made a run to the state semifinals, their first trip since 2004.
The boys won their third straight district crown. That was something the program had never before accomplished.
They went on to reach the state quarterfinals for a second consecutive season.
And though their postseason journey may not have been as accomplished, Ascension Christian achieved history. In just the fourth year of its existence, the soccer program won its first-ever playoff game.
In girl’s basketball, East Ascension brought home the parish’s first state title of the year.
The Lady Spartans won a share of the district championship during the regular season and steamrolled their way to the state title game, where they pulled out a victory over Natchitoches Central.
It was the program’s first-ever state title, and it was the third state championship won by head coach Dennis Chandler.
The team has lost just four games in the past two seasons.
For the boys, Dutchtown won their first playoff game in four years, and St. Amant won their first since 2009.
Another East Ascension girl’s team came close to winning a state championship.
The Lady Spartan bowling squad went undefeated during the regular season, won their district and finished the year as state runners-up.
Continuing the trend of “girl power” in the parish, the Ascension Catholic girl’s powerlifting team brought home their fourth straight state title.
The Lady Bulldog softball team was also very successful.
They went undefeated in district play for a fourth consecutive season and reached the Softball State Tournament for a sixth straight year.
Ascension Catholic ended up reaching the state semifinals.
The Bulldog baseball team also reached Sulphur, and they finished the job.
In District 6-1A, Ascension Catholic had to settle for second, behind St. John. They refused to play the runner-up role again.
The Bulldogs reached the Baseball State Tournament for a second straight season and played their way into the title game, where they met the Eagles.
They had lost to St. John four times in a row, including twice during the regular season, but Ascension Catholic made sure that this time went differently.
The Bulldogs fought back from a late 2-0 deficit to defeat the Eagles, 4-3, and claim their first state title since 1994.
And even though they didn’t win championships, what the St. Amant and Dutchtown baseball teams accomplished cannot be discounted.
Both teams headed into the playoffs as low seeds with low outside expectations. Both made impressive runs to the state quarterfinals.
Ascension Parish teams will have a lot to live up to in 2018-19, but I’m not betting against them.