Five Ascension baseball players headed to BRCC

Kyle Riviere
From left to right: Ascension Christian's Micah Freeman, St. Amant's Kolby Blanchard, Ascension Christian's Peyton Bahlinger, East Ascension's Trent LeBlanc, St. Amant's Larson Fontenot and BRCC assistant coach Paul Burgard. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Paul Burgard coached them in high school, and now, he’ll be there to see them showcase their talents at the college level.

Burgard was the head baseball coach at Ascension Christian for years until leaving the school over the summer to become an assistant at Baton Rouge Community College.

With one of his new responsibilities being recruitment of players to the young and budding program, Burgard knew that it was vital that he return to talent-rich Ascension Parish.

As a result, five parish standouts will be competing for roster spots at BRCC this upcoming season. These players include: St. Amant’s Kolby Blanchard and Larson Fontenot, Ascension Christian’s Peyton Bahlinger and Micah Freeman and East Ascension’s Trent LeBlanc.

Burgard coached both Bahlinger and Freeman when he was with the Lions.

“It’s very satisfying for me because I had these guys in the eighth grade, and to see them develop and come this far and to be able to recruit them, I feel so good about it,” Burgard said. “I’m so happy for them, and I’m sure that they’re going to do well at the college level and make a statement about the kind of talent they have here in this parish. They have great players here, and I like to see them showcased.”

Blanchard and Fontenot both helped lead St. Amant to a great season that saw them finish as co-runners-up with Dutchtown in District 5-5A. They went on to reach the second round of the playoffs.

Both made the all-district team. Fontenot was a first-team selection.

“I coached Larson his freshman year. You knew right from the beginning that he was going to be good,” Burgard said. “This year, he had to play first base because of an injury, but he’s going to be an outfielder for us. I can’t understand how no other schools were after him. I was lucky they weren’t.”

LeBlanc was one of the key cogs in East Ascension’s pitching rotation. He also had a very productive summer throwing for the parish’s Gauthier & Amedee American Legion team in 2016.

Freeman is a former all-district player for Ascension Christian. He graduated last year.

“Micah developed into such a good baseball player. He took the year off and went to a baseball academy in Texas and improved his game,” Burgard said. “He’s ready to play college baseball. These kids have a great opportunity to come in and grab a starting position for this year. It won’t be easy, but they’ll have the opportunity to battle for it.”

Bahlinger is fresh off of leading the Lions to a tremendous year that featured them finishing as runners-up in District 6-1A and winning their first ever playoff game.

He was a first-team all-district selection.

“Peyton was a cornerstone player for the team this year. He’s such a talented guy,” Burgard said. “I have no idea how other colleges weren’t all over him. I have experience with Peyton, and I know what kind of talent and potential he has.

“I knew from the get-go that we needed to recruit him hard. The other colleges that didn’t offer him dropped the ball. I think that after he has two strong years with us, he can go over to a Division-I team.”

Burgard said that he was proud to see his old team finally break through this season and win their first postseason game. He said that he always knew that this year’s team would be special.

As far as the future, Burgard said that the BRCC baseball program is on the rise, and he thinks they’ll just continue to get better if they can consistently scoop up Ascension products.

“We got a good haul from here. I’m very pleased with the talent that we got from the parish this year,” Burgard said. “I think it’ll be even better next year. I’m excited about what the future holds. I can’t wait to watch these guys play college baseball. I’m like a proud dad.”