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Parish baseball and volleyball stars thriving at next level

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown alum Kristen Thompson is playing well as a true freshman at Tulane. Photo courtesy of

As proven throughout the years, Ascension high-school athletics is just the start for many special athletes.

From John “Hot Rod” Williams, to Ben Sheets, to Landon Collins, the parish continues to have a rich tradition of its best stars moving on to college and professional athletics and thriving.

This past weekend, the college football season kicked off with a myriad of former Ascension standouts getting their taste of action—players like Coney Durr and Alonzo Craighton at Minnesota, Lloyd Cushenberry and Stephen Sullivan at LSU, Adam Sparks at Missouri or Justin Reid at Stanford.

But football isn’t the only sport in which parish products are succeeding. Volleyball and baseball have their share of standouts as well.

Three that have made a big splash recently are Blayne Enlow, Toni Rodriguez and Kristen Thompson.

Enlow has been doing his share of damage in the Minnesota Twins’ Minor League Baseball rookie league. He is a part of the Gulf Coast League Twins that compete in Fort Myers, Fla., at the Lee County Sports Complex.

The former St. Amant pitcher was originally committed to LSU. He verbally committed to the school right before the beginning of his junior season.

In his final two years with the Gators, he went a combined 11-7 with nearly 200 strikeouts. He finished with a minuscule 1.00 ERA during his senior season.

In both years, he was named District 5-5A MVP, Parish Pitcher of the Year and All-State. Enlow helped lead the Gators to the state quarterfinals in 2015. Later that summer, he made the 20-man 18u Team USA squad and helped lead them to a gold medal victory in the COPABE Pan American Games in Monterrey, Mexico.

At the beginning of the summer, the Twins drafted him 76th overall in the Major League Baseball Draft. The pick itself was worth $755,000, but after bonuses were added, the offer reportedly reached $2 million.

With so much money on the table, Enlow decided to leave his scholarship offer to LSU on the table and officially become a professional baseball player.

The Twins have not regretted their pick so far.

Over the summer, Enlow has made six appearances and pitched 20 and a third innings. In that time, he has gone a perfect 3-0 with an exceptional 1.33 ERA.

Enlow has only allowed 10 hits and three earned runs, while walking just four batters. Opposing batters are hitting just .141 against him, and he has piled up 19 strikeouts.

Another former St. Amant Gator is excelling in collegiate volleyball. Toni Rodriguez has had a solid start to her junior season at LSU.

Rodriguez is a former three-sport star for St. Amant that was named the Baton Rouge area’s female Athlete of the Year during her junior season.

She originally committed to Tennessee, but after going down with a season-ending knee injury during her senior year, the school pulled their scholarship offer. That gave way to her signing with LSU.

The Lady Tigers have gotten off to a 6-0 start to the season, and Rodriguez has certainly done her part.

She is fourth on the team with 40 kills. She is fourth in blocks with eight and she is fifth on the team in points with 45.

Also in college volleyball, former Dutchtown star Kristen Thompson has played well as a true freshman for Tulane.

Thompson had a terrific career with the Lady Griffins. During her junior season, she was named the district’s Offensive MVP.

Thompson has seen plenty of game action in the Green Wave’s first four games. Tulane has gone 5-2 in that stretch.

She is averaging six kills per match. She had a career high of eight in her debut.

Thompson also has 13 blocks for the season, and she has scored 49.5 points. She scored 9.5 points alone in Tulane’s first match.