Baseball is a sport that is known for streaks. Sometimes everything moves in slow motion for a hitter and pitchers have pinpoint accuracy. A week later, everything can change.
Destrehan was the hottest team in the state in March, but they struggled down the stretch with back-to-back losses to Hahnville in April. That carried over to the playoffs. While the Wildcats cruised past the first round, they fell, 6-2, to No. 18 ranked St. Amant in the second round.
"We played much better baseball in March than May," Destrehan head coach Marty Luquet said. "If they moved the state tournament to March, we would have had a great chance."
While Destrehan (29-6) got off to a hot start early, St. Amant was the polar opposite. The Gators struggled through the early part of their schedule, falling to Ruston, West Monroe, Zachary, Brother Martin, Jesuit and Dutchtown. But St. Amant avenged their two regular season losses to Dutchtown with an 8-4 victory in the first round of the playoffs before blowing past Destrehan in the second round.
"We saw (St. Amant) in March and we werenít impressed. Now, they are playing very well and they are a good team," Luquet said.
St. Amant jumped out to a 5-1 lead over Destrehan after the first two frames, chasing Wildcat ace Blake Hymel from the game. Destrehan got one of those runs back on a ground ball by Hymel in the second, but the Wildcats were unable to get any closer over the next three innings.
Madison Nickens gave the Gators a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth with a sacrifice fly to score Blaine Shex. The Wildcats last run of the night came on a solo home run by Hymel.
Hymel suffered the loss for Destrehan, giving up three earned runs on six hits. He led his team from the plate with two RBIs.
Tanner Hayes was perfect from the plate for the Wildcats, going 3-for-3 with a double.
"(St. Amant) came out and hit the ball well in the first two innings," Luquet said. "They were very confident and they performed well. You canít blame Blake, he just didnít have it that day."
The Wildcats will return plenty of talent next season, but they are losing four important seniors in Jace Weber, Jesse Bryant, Hayes and Hymel.
"Those guys all played an integral part in our success this year. They say the middle of the field is your strength and we are losing our catcher, one of our top two pitchers and our shortstop," Luquet said. "Losing four seniors doesnít seem that bad, but their quality makes them hard to replace."
Luquet admits that he does have plenty of good players returning next season
Destrehan will have some firepower from the plate with the return of Brock Benedetto and Kade Granier, who combined for 59 RBIs during the season. Granier will also be counted on to serve as the Wildcatsí top pitcher next season after finishing the year with a 6-2 record.
Other returning starters include Ryan Brewer, Sam Steib and Brennan Breaud, who combined for 64 RBIs. Luquet said that the competition this summer to fill the remaining spots in the lineup will be phenomenal.
"We have some really good players that are waiting on their turn," he said.
Luquet also announced that next season will be his last as head coach for Destrehan. Luquet has had a storied career at Destrehan, leading the team to 12 playoff appearances. His Destrehan teams have reached the state tournament six times and advanced to the state championship game twice.
Luquet received 5A Coach of the Year honors in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and was named district Coach of the Year 11 times.
"Baseball is year round – coaching in any sport is year round," Luquet said. "There are other things I would like to go do."