Tradition, sucess draws Richard to LSU-Eunice
East Ascension has a long tradition of sending players from its baseball program to LSU-Eunice.
The Bengals added another to that list Thursday when Spartan centerfielder Matt Richard signed with the school.
“I feel like it is a good fit for me and it will get me where I need to be,” Richard said. “Taking the next step to the main goal.”
Richard, a District 6-5A first-team selection, joins former teammate and MVP Dane Amedee at LSU-Eunice keeping a tradition alive that recently saw East Ascension graduates Ryan Boudreaux and Brady Bourque contribute to Bengals 2006 National Junior Athletic Association Championship.
“Baseball has always been my dream ever since I was little,” Richard said. “Now that I have chosen baseball over football, I can go to college and just concentrate on one sport.”
Richard was a first-team all-district safety for the Spartans in football this season but suffered a knee injury in the last game of the season against East St. John and will be forced to sit out his senior season of baseball.
“When I first heard the news, of course I was sad when they told me I couldn’t play this year but I have gotten that past me,” Richard said. “Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I can move forward and I definitely think it is going to make me stronger realizing I have a challenge ahead of me and that I have to overcome it to do what I always wanted to do.”
Richard had team-highs with a .485 average, 46 stolen bases, 48 hits and 49 runs scored last season. He also was successful on all 21 of his stolen base attempts while batting .455 in district as the Spartans won the district crown.
“Last year, he was an integral part in what we were able to do,” East Ascension head coach Wayne Grenfell said. “He did a lot of things that set him up to play at the next level which is every young kid’s dream. We are going to miss him this year but he is still going to be around here putting his leadership skills to work for us to be a better baseball team. I think with Matt around, all of our kids will step up their game to another level and give us a chance to be successful.
“He can run but beyond that he is a very instinctive baseball player. He has a great knowledge of the strike zone. He is a very good defender. We won a few games because he was able to get to balls that normal centerfielders couldn’t get. He has a plus arm. Everything he does in the game of baseball excels but the best thing is he anticipates very well and that is a big part of the game of baseball.”
Grenfell said although Richard’s injury has prevented him from playing his senior season he believes that if he does what he is capable of, “the sky is the limit.”
Richard said Eunice believed in him because of his work ethic which he said stands out the most during his time at East Ascension.
“The one thing that sticks out in my mind is all the long hours and all the hard work I have put into it,”?Richard said.
Richard said that work ethic comes from his grandparents Offerd and Doris Richard who have never missed one of his games.
“My grandparents were at all my games taking me to get ice cream after,”?Richard said. “They always believed in me.”