Bulldogs' season special for what they overcame

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com

When you look back at the baseball season Ascension Catholic just had, their accomplishments look impressive. It's impressive any time you reach the state quarterfinals.

But their exploits are even more commendable when you consider the fact that they started the season in an 0-6 hole.

Not many teams can muster the kind of grit and determination it takes to dig itself out of the cellar and not only succeed but come close to winning the top prize. The scrappy Bulldogs did so this past season, and their head coach couldn't be more proud.

"I'm extremely proud of these guys. We started out 2-11; things weren't going well, but we finished strong. We went on a run, and we actually ended with a 16-17 record," Ascension Catholic head coach Todd Landry said. "It was a tremendous run. We beat a really good Hanson team and then we took a really good Central Catholic team to 10 innings in the quarterfinals. I couldn't be more proud of these guys. They're really a special group."

Before the Bulldogs hit their stride at the end of the season, they looked dead in the water. But despite staring down an ugly 2-11 record, they put together a 12-5 run to end the regular season.

Once in the playoffs, they kept the momentum going as they beat Houma Christian, 13-12, in an opening-round slugfest. They then upset third-seeded Hansom Memorial, 6-3, to advance to the state quarterfinals.

There, they took sixth-seeded Central Catholic to 10 innings before dropping a 2-1 heartbreaker.

"They showed tremendous character. This team never showed signs of distress; they never acted like they didn't want to show up," Landry said. "They stepped up, and they wanted to work. They wanted to get better, and they ended up putting it all together there at the end."

Prior to their quarterfinal loss, Ascension Catholic had strung together five straight victories and to Landry, it was pretty obvious why they were having such great late-season success.

"Our pitching came together nicely. Landon Clifton did really well along with Cole Amedee and all four guys in our rotation," Landry said. "The whole staff really came together well, and Landon and Falcon Mire both pitched well during the playoffs.

"Also, we played really good defense behind them. It's true what they say: pitching and defense win championships. It really kept us in ballgames, and we got just enough hitting."

Looking back on the season, this Ascension Catholic squad wasn't the most talented bunch the school has ever had, but Coach Landry thinks that what they were able to overcome and accomplish made this a memorable season.

"They'll certainly go down as one of the best teams here at Ascension Catholic when you talk about the distance they reached in the playoffs. It's only the third time I've had a team that reached the quarterfinals," Landry said. "We've had two state champions here, and only eight teams have made it farther.

"Have I coached more talented teams? Yes, but this has been an exciting team to coach because of the adversity that they were able to overcome early in the year, and they'll benefit from that. They'll benefit from it not just in baseball but also in life."

Having come one game away from Sulphur and the state tournament two years in a row, next season will be all about finishing the job for the Bulldogs.

"Getting over the hump, that will be our rally cry for next year. We want to take that next step; that's our goal moving forward," Landry said. "We'll bring back lots of quality players with the goal to make it past the quarterfinals and into the state tournament. We've now experienced the quarterfinals two years in a row. We want to take that next step."