Parish players crowd All-District 5-5A team

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown pitcher Austin Bankert was a first-team All-District 5-5A selection. Photo by Tammy Gaudin.

District 5-5A has consistently been one of the strongest and most talented baseball districts in the state over the past few years, and that didn’t change in 2017.

Three of the teams that make up the league are parish powers in St. Amant, Dutchtown and East Ascension. All three squads made the playoffs this past season, and all three teams had at least six players make the all-district team.

Leading the charge was Dutchtown as they placed nine standouts on the All-District 5-5A squad.

The Griffins had the most to prove of the three parish teams heading into the season after losing virtually their entire pitching staff. In addition to the loss of arms, Northwestern State signees Caleb Ricca and Payton Stafford both graduated.

This year’s team featured plenty of youth and inexperience as they utilized multiple first-year starters.

Still, the Griffins were able to finish the regular season with a 21-13 record. They collected some impressive wins along the way.

They beat Central—who went on to win the 5A state title, they ended Catholic’s (eventual Division-I runner-up) 14-game winning streak and they crushed parish foe St. Amant in the finale.

The win over the Gators allowed them to finish the season tied with them for second place in the district.

In the playoffs, Dutchtown fell on the road to Ouachita Parish in a 7-6 eight-inning thriller.

Dutchtown was led by senior utility player Cameron Crawford. The first-team all-district selection is a Nicholls signee.

Although the Griffin pitching staff had little experience heading into the season, it quickly became Dutchtown’s greatest strength due to the emergence of players like Austin Bankert. Bankert earned first-team all-district honors from the mound.

Infielders Jack Merrifield and Cameron Sibley rode their late-season hot streaks from the plate to the all-district first team.

From the outfield, Zach Johnson was the Griffins’ final first-team selection.

Senior pitcher Cade Blanchard highlighted the all-district second team, along with first-year starter at catcher, Reid Bouchereau.

Sammy Waguespack was a second-team selection from the outfield, and Brayden Caskey made the second team as a utility player.

St. Amant headed into the 2017 season as an early favorite to compete with Catholic for the district title after reaching the state quarterfinals a year prior.

However, early on, the Gators’ defense struggled and they were having a hard time finding consistency on the mound, behind ace Blayne Enlow.

This funk translated into a 4-8 start.

Though, the pitching and defense came around when St. Amant needed them the most. Behind the resurgent play, the Gators went 15-4 down the stretch and finished as district co-runners-up with Dutchtown.

In the playoffs, St. Amant went on the road in the opening round and upset No. 14 Ruston, 8-6. It pushed them through to the regional series, but there, they were swept by third-seeded Sam Houston.

Eight Gators made the all-district team.

For the second straight season, Enlow (LSU signee) was named the District 5-5A MVP as he dominated from the mound. Enlow also emerged as one of their best hitters in the latter half of the season.

Senior Larson Fontenot made the first team from the infield. As a first-year starter, Fontenot worked his way into the “cleanup” role of St. Amant’s lineup.

Outfielder and Southeastern commit Zane Zeppuhar was St. Amant’s final first-team selection.

Colin Schutz became a solid second option for the Gators on the mound. In doing so, he was second-team all-district.

From the infield, Nicholls signee Ivan Prejean and Kolby Blanchard were second-team selections, along with outfielder Patrick Wolfe.

The East Ascension Spartans had an up-and-down season.

After starting the year at 5-1, they went through a skid that included a stretch of seven losses in eight games, before ending the regular season with a 6-1 tear.

In the playoffs, East Ascension dropped a tough 2-1 road contest in the first round to No. 11 New Iberia.

Six Spartans were named to the All-District 5-5A team.

For the second straight season, senior catcher Jacob Thompson made the first team.

He was joined by fellow seniors in infielder Joseph Stevens and utility player Noah Fontenot.

Not only did Fontenot serve as the team’s ace on the mound, but he was a reliable hitter and outfielder for the team throughout the season.

Second-team selections included infielder Preston Thrash, senior outfielder Ryan Williams and senior utility player Reese Hebert.