Wombats begin new season under new coach

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown's Cameron Crawford will be one of Gauthier & Amedee's top leaders this summer. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

For most high-school athletes, once the summer begins, the competition ends.

That’s not the case for some of Ascension’s top baseball stars. The competition is just getting started for them.

Just recently, the parish’s Gauthier & Amedee American Legion team held tryouts, and now, they’re ready to begin their quest for a state title.

The Wombats haven’t brought home a state championship since the summer of 2013. That year, they not only won state, but they also won the regional tournament and made it to the World Series in Shelby, N.C.

For the past two seasons, they have reached the state semifinals.

If they do finally break through and take state in 2017, it will be under a new head coach.

This summer’s team will be led by three-time Class 5A Coach of the Year, Marty Luquet.

Luquet retired as a full-time high-school coach back in 2014, after coaching for 25 years and collecting 447 wins.

He is most known for his 14 years at Destrehan, where he led the Wildcats to state runner-up honors in 2003 and 2005.

Most recently, he has been coaching in the All-American Amateur Baseball Association summer league. He has led the team to a national title.

Luquet takes over as Gauthier & Amedee head coach for Conrad Gayle. Gayle has led the Wombats for the past two seasons.

However, now being the head coach at Ascension Christian, Gayle’s plate filled up fast. He decided that he would stay with Gauthier & Amedee, but he would serve as an assistant.

Luquet said that he’s excited to lead the Wombats.

“Over the years, I’ve coached against the Gauthier & Amedee teams many times, so it’s going to be good to now have them on my side,” Luquet said. “I know the quality of players that they have in Ascension Parish. I haven’t been with them for long, but seeing them out in tryouts, they got me excited. They’re hard workers. They play and practice hard, and that’s a tribute to their high-school coaches.”

It hasn’t taken Luquet very long to see what his new team’s greatest strengths will be.

“Our position players are going to be really good. We’re going to be good defensively, and we’re going to have solid pitching,” Luquet said. “We might not have any big-time stoppers, but top to bottom, we’re going to have a strong pitching staff.”

Though this will be the first time he coaches the parish’s standouts, he is no stranger to their talents.

“I watched a lot of these guys over the course of the season. I probably watched about 30 games, so I had a pretty good idea of who would be our top players,” Luquet said. “We’re really going to build around Cameron Crawford, Ivan Prejean and Noah Fontenot. Those are guys that are back from last year. They have tournament experience, so I think they’ll bring a calming factor to the team in big moments.

“We have a lot of first-time players. I think we’ll be able to count on Zane Zeppuhar and Preston Thrash to produce as well.”

Crawford (Nicholls signee), Fontenot and Zeppuhar were all first-team all-district selections this season. Both Prejean (Nicholls signee) and Thrash were second-team.

The Wombats are looking for a better finish than what they saw in 2016. They lost their first game in the state tournament and had to play catch-up for the rest of the action.

Luquet said that the key to winning the state crown this summer will be getting off to a better start.

“Last year, I don’t think things fell right for them,” Luquet said. “They were stuck in the loser’s bracket, and if you want to win state, you have to get into the winner’s bracket. This summer, we’ve scheduled a lot of elimination tournaments to get us ready for when the state tournament rolls around.”