Young, inexperienced Tigers hoping to compete

Peter Silas Pasqua
Donaldsonville sophomore Tyler LeBeouf is one of only three Tigers returning in 2009 with varsity experience.

DONALDSONVILLE - After showing promise in 2007, Donaldsonville’s baseball program faltered last season amongst high expectations.

Donaldsonville won their first district game in years two seasons ago but despite moving from a district with perennial powers John Curtis, St. Charles Catholic and Riverside, the Tigers fell to 0-8 in district play against St. John, Livonia, Loreauville and Jeanerette and finished 1-13 overall.

“Last year, we did have some high expectations going into the season,” Donaldsonville head coach Jay Dykes said. “We had some experience at certain spots. Through a couple of bad breaks and injuries, it just didn’t pan out. Our pitching wasn’t as deep as we thought it would be. We were never out of ball games. It just seemed like sometimes we couldn’t put it together as a unit. Sometimes that happens. You have good ball players and sometimes they just don’t gel and sometimes you have mediocre ball players who play better together as a unit. It is just hard to explain why we didn’t have success last year with the experience we had coming back and being in that new district.”

Donaldsonville loses four seniors off last year’s team that started since they were freshmen. This season there are no seniors on the Tigers’ roster.

“We are working with a lot of young and inexperienced kids,” Dykes said. “They just have to grow together as a team. We have some kids with baseball experience but not at this level. We are extremely young. More so than ever before and we are not going to have as much speed as we have had in the past.”

PITCHING STAFF - Donaldsonville returns very little experience on the mound with the graduation of Conner Smith, Quinton Foster, Champlain Babin and Maurice Brown and departure

of Laine Bailey.

“We are going to have a rather i nexperienced staff,” Dykes said. “We are looking at a lot of new guys on the mound and we are looking at some other guys in basketball.”

Seventh grader Marquise Zeno could develop into the Tigers go to guy, Dykes said.

“He is a new kid,” Dykes said. “He has a real good baseball sense and is a real good athlete. He has a good attitude.”

Also expecting to pitch are Brian Foster, Tyler LeBeouf and Benton Mitchell.

LINEUP - Donaldsonville returns very little experience in the field as well. Brown batted .350 a year ago with 16 RBI and two home runs, while Babin in .305 with 14 runs, 10 RBI and 18 steals and Smith hit .275 with six RBI and one home run.

The Tigers do return Foster, LeBeouf and Tre` Sullivan who have limited experience.

“We have a couple of kids coming back from last year that we are looking to go to as leaders but they are just juniors,” Dykes said. “They have been with the program a couple of years but they are still honing their craft. It will take them a while to realize they will have to be the leaders.”

Foster is expected to start at third with Zeno at shortstop and Jarlen Joseph at second base. 

“(Joseph) has been on the squad for two years and worked his way to possibly earning a starting spot but he has a long way to go,” Dykes said.

At first base will be either Courtland Joshua or Dwight Wright, who is still in basketball. Joshua and Mitchell are both expected to catcher with Ronnie Smith providing depth.

“(Mitchell) is another young guy with good baseball sense but not a lot of experience,” Dykes said.

LeBeouf, Sullivan and Jeffery Henry will man the outfield.

SCHEDULE  - Donaldsonville opens the season against Pointe Coupee Central before traveling to White Castle. They then host West St. John before renewing an old rivalry with St. James sandwiched around a trip to Pointe Coupee Central.

St. John won the District 7-2A championship last season and Livonia placed second.

“I think we are going to be competitive in the district,” Dykes said. “It is a different story than the district we were playing in before. St. John is always going to be loaded. Livonia and Loreauville have good ball clubs and Jeanerette is where we are. We have always tried to instill that no matter who you are playing, you always have to competitive. We have played in districts with perennial state champions and as a coaching staff we know what it is like to be in these districts with the top dogs. We still have some strong teams and St. John is the dog right now. If we are going to make any noise we have to do well against everyone including St. John.”

OUTLOOK - Dykes is expecting the Tigers to work hard and give complete effort.

“We are going to play it game by game,” Dykes said. “We don’t have a lot of experience. I am not putting a lot of burden on the kids’ shoulders. All I am asking is they give 110 percent every outing and if you do that, nine times out of ten you are going to have success whether the scoreboard shows it are not. We are going to build with what we have and let the chips fall where they may.”