Griffins want to pick up where they left off in ‘08

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown senior Wesley Perkins returns at catcher for the Griffins and will also be a key pitcher.

GEISMAR - Dutchtown continued its successful tradition in baseball in 2008, reaching the state playoffs for the sixth straight season since the school started.

The Griffins seemed to peak at the right time as well, placing second in District 6-5A with a 9-6 record and advancing to the state tournament. Dutchtown’s season ended in a 7-6 loss to Catholic in the quarterfinals and the Griffins finished 23-15. 

“Last year, I felt we had a real good team coming back,” Dutchtown head coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “ We had a lot of guys without a lot of experience but I thought the pre-district schedule got them that experience and I felt going into district that we had a chance. We started out slow, couldn’t win close games and in baseball you have to win close games. About midway through we got on a hot streak and peaked at the right time.”

Schexnaydre enters his second season at the helm of the Dutchtown program but lose two key components in the Griffins’ attack in the previous four years. Pitcher/centerfielder Donnie White has moved on to UNO and infielder Justin Boudreaux is now at SLU after both earning first-team all-district honors a year ago, while providing Dutchtown with a combined 20 home runs and 80 RBIs.

“Donnie White and Justin Boudreaux played a lot for us since they were freshmen,” Schexnaydre said. “I don’t think we can replace those guys but one of our biggest strengths is going to be our experience. We some guys that played every day for us last year but we have a lot of guys returning. Some of them didn’t have great years and have to have better years but we have a lot of guys with varsity experience. Playing in that district last year, I think really prepared those guys for the upcoming season.”

PITCHING STAFF - Although Dutchtown returns senior left-hander Dillon Day, a first-team all-district selection and Southern Mississippi signee, Schexnaydre said the Griffins will be inexperienced on the mound.

“We got quite a few arms,” Schexnaydre said. “We have some guys returning but they didn’t have an opportunity to pitch a whole lot in our district last year. It is pre-district tournaments where you get in a bind with pitching. You are playing four games in four days so your pitching tends to sometimes tax your arms. It will be a good chance for some of our guys to show what they can do and try to gain some trust in their teammates as well as the coaches. In district, obviously it is fewer arms you have to use, so hopefully we can pick the right guys to go to.”

Day was 5-4 last season with a 2.98 ERA and 79 strikeouts. Senior left-hander Camron Breeden struckout 48 last season while going 3-3 with a 4.26 ERA. Junior left hander Britt Gautreaux compiled a 4-0 record with a 4.00 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Senior right hander Wesley Perkins is also expected to start.

“Dillon Day pitched a whole lot for us last year and he was our guy,” Schexnaydre said. “We will have him to anchor our staff. Outside of that we are a little inexperienced. We are going to count on Cameron to pitch a lot and he didn’t pitch a lot of district for us last year. Britt Gautreaux is going to have to start some games on the mound for us.”

Junior right-hander Jesse Buratt leads the bullpen after registering a 3-0 record last season with a 3.18 ERA. Others expected to contribute are junior right-handers Court Schwing, Chris Boutwell and Ethan Cart.

LINEUP - Senior centerfielder Damon Scanlan is expected to fill White’s shoes this season after starting in the outfield a year ago and seeing plenty of time in center.

“We moved some guys around in the outfield,” Schexnaydre said. “We had three guys returning. Donnie was extremely fast and Damon is the same way. Damon flys around and is going get them in the outfield. We lost a lot in Donnie, but Damon is going to do a great job filling in.”

Day returns in right field after batting .337 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Sophomore Matt Willis also saw plenty of time in the outfield a year ago and is penciled in at left. Junior Leon Blouin and sophomores Shaquille Lewis and David Lentz will provide depth in the outfield.

Senior Alex Millet moves to shortstop after starting two seasons at third to replace Boudreaux.

“Alex so far has really impressed me and shown a lot of maturity handling the position,” Schexnaydre said.

Perkins returns at catcher, while Gautreaux is back at first base. Buratt, who batted .308 with three home runs and 27 RBIs, will man third and freshman Troy Lewis is expected to start at second. Seniors Justin Musselmann and John Lambert will split at designated hitter. Junior Colin Poche`, Garrett Rayburn, Dylan Sing and sophomores Jacob Williams and Eric Babin will provide depth in the infield.

“Anytime you go into a season you want to do certain things but I think each game dictates how you will play it,” Schexnaydre said. “There are a lot of factors in each individual game. I don’t think we will have the home run power we had last year so we will have to do things differently to score  runs. We have guys that run so I think the opportunity for us to steal a few more bases will be there but it is all about what the game dictates.”

SCHEDULE - Dutchtown will face two of the eight teams - Jesuit and Mandeville - that made an appearance in the Class 5A tournament last May. The Griffins will also play Class 4A champion Zachary, runner-up Shaw and semifinalist Neville and Class 3A champion Parkview Baptist and runner-up St. Charles Catholic.

Dutchtown host St. Stanislau (Miss.), Mandeville and Parkview Baptist in the Dutchtown Tournament, meets Rummel, Shaw, Jesuit and Brother Martin in the Jay Patterson Shootout and takes on Ruston, Barbe, Warren Central and West Monroe in the Ouachita Tournament. The Griffins will see Central, Captain Shreve, Neville and Holy Cross in the Stephen Richardson Tournament.

“I think coach (Mike) Toups tried to put together the toughest schedule together that he could,” Schexnaydre said. “We have tried to continue that. We have a great pre-district schedule.  We have some very tough opponents but I think when you play those games it shows your team what they are capable of and it puts you in a playoff type atmosphere anytime you play teams like that.”

In District 6-5A play, Dutchtown will face regionalists East Ascension and Hahnville along with Destrehan who was eliminated in the first round and perennial power St. Amant.

“It is a lot of fun,” Schexnaydre said. “As a baseball coach it is very stressful because you always expect to win but any given night against an opponent in our district you can go down. Baseball is a funny game. Guys can have bad years and your whole season can go down the drain. You have to have guys step up and have great seasons for you.”

OUTLOOK - Schexnaydre maintains that for the Griffins to be successful this season, they must have solid pitching and defense.

“In baseball, the key to any season is pitching and defense,” Schexnaydre said. “If you get those two things day in and day out, in the long run, you will have a good season. Offensively, you are going to have your slumps and sometimes the other guy is just really good and is going to beat you that day.”

Schexnaydre said the Griffins set goals for throughout the season but making the playoffs tops the list followed by a trip to the state tournament.

“Once you get there, you hope to win it all,” Schexnaydre said. “It is no different than any other year. District championships are nice but the main thing is making the playoffs and once you get there anything can happen.”

senior pitcher/ outfielder Dillon Day returns after earning all-district last season when he registered a 5-4 records with .298 ERA and 79 strikeouts.