Gayle reflects on special first season with Wombats
Gauthier & Amedee's journey may have ended with a loss in the state tournament, but it was still a special season for first-year head coach Conrad Gayle.
"We didn't reach the goal we had set at the start of the season, but these guys were always ready to play, and it was a great summer," Gayle said. "Friendships were built that will last forever. We represented a great organization in Gauthier & Amedee and a great parish. The players really gave great effort throughout the summer."
Gayle is an assistant coach at Dutchtown under skipper Chris Schexnaydre. He filled the Wombats' head coaching vacancy that was left behind when Justin Morgan departed to become the head man at University High.
With this summer being his first stint as a head coach, he said it left a lasting impression on him.
"This group will always be special to me because this was my first head coaching experience," Gayle said. "But even being their coach, we built friendships, and they helped me along the way. These kids mean a lot to me, and we all had a lot of fun off the field.
"During the summer, I think I spent more time with these guys than I did with my family. It was always fun to show up to the park, and I'm happy that this team was the first group that I coached."
Gauthier & Amedee had an impressive season.
They finished with a 17-11 overall record and won the District 6 championship. That victory earned them a spot in the Louisiana Senior Tournament.
The Wombats won the first two games and reached the semifinals, but they fell a little short. A 1-0 defeat to Lafayette's Delhomme ended their state title and World Series aspirations.
As impressive as the wins were for Gauthier & Amedee, the season's greatest feat was how they banded together to play for a fallen teammate.
Early in the season, St. Amant's Adam Sevario was involved in a car accident that badly injured his back and put him in the hospital for an extended period of time.
Coach Gayle said that he asked the players the night of the accident if they still wanted to compete the next day.
They all wanted to play. They said that it was what Sevario would have wanted.
From that point on, every time they took the field, they were playing for their injured brother.
"The guys rallied behind him and made sure that he knew their hearts were with him," Gayle said. "Being out there and competing, it relaxes you a little from the situation – it was good for them to be with each other.
"Adam played for six or seven games, and he suddenly had that ended with a horrible accident. It really helped the guys realize that you can't take anything for granted. But we never forgot about Adam. We kept putting him in the one-hole in the lineup every single day to honor him."
Sevario eventually got better and by the time the state tournament rolled around, he was riding with Gayle to the games.
Gayle joked that Sevario was constantly "bugging him" to put him in the lineup and let him play.
Before getting injured, Sevario was hitting .384.
Other Wombats who led the team in hitting were former St. Amant star Blaine Schexnayder (.372, 23 RBIs) and Dutchtown's Payton Stafford (.359, 18 RBIs).
On the mound, Dutchtown All-State pitcher Dillon Abbess made the biggest impact as he went 5-1 with an impressive 1.89 ERA and 40 strikeouts.
Other pitchers that put up great performances were East Ascension's Hayden Adams (4-2, 2.38 ERA) and Parkview Baptist's Adam Tarver (3-2. 3.30 ERA).
Despite the gaudy numbers, the great talent and the many athletic attributes, Coach Gayle saw much more when he looked at his team this summer.
"From top to bottom, it's a tremendous group of guys. They're very respectful," Gayle said.