Can you hear it? Clang! Boom, the sound of a ball hitting a leather mitt, the sound of an aluminum bat striking that white pearl-leather- bound baseball?
The sounds you hear are the Wildcats of Destrehan gearing up for another baseball season.
Due to nasty weather the Wildcats have lost at least a week of practice.
But Coach Martin Luquet says the lost time won’t hurt them all that much.
"We have an experienced team this year with seven starters returning from last year,” he says. “I would be a lot more worried if we were a young team."
The coach expects to make an appearance at the state championship tournament at Zepher Field. Anything else is unacceptable, he says.
For the first time in his five-year tenure, the Wildcats did not appear in the state tournament last season.
"Last year was a disappointment because we judge the success of a team by whether we make the tournament - and being young ended up costing us that playoff game last year,” he says.
The team that took the field in 2006 was indeed inexperienced, but they were made stronger by some tough losses - and that strength will help them this year.
This season the squad vows not to end their season without a state playoff appearance.
They finished a solid American Legion Season with 19-5 mark capturing the 2nd District division championship and an appearance in the southwest regional in Gonzales this past summer.
Coach Luquete describes his 2007 Destrehan Baseball club as "powerful."
The Wildcats bring a good balance of speed and power in their line-up, in 11 of 19 victories in American Legion ball the ‘Cats scored double-digit runs.
The Wildcats are a junior- and senior-laden team this season led by senior first baseman Kyle Shnowski,who led the squad in hitting during the summer season.
Shnowski also belted 12 home runs and hit .534 with 47 RBI's.
The Wildcats aren't just a one-trick pony - they can hurt you throughout their line-up with senior outfielder Joe Harrison, juniors Renny Webber and Trey Watkins, senior Jules Roussel and senior Steven Fisher.
The ‘Cats pitching staff is led by veteran ace Kyle Shnowski, who was 7-2 last year with 24 strikeouts during Legion ball. He brings valuable playoff experience to the mound.
Junior right-hander Byron Clark, says Coach Luquete, "Really matured during Legion ball. We gave him one start, he did well. We gave him another and he did good - and pretty soon he was 6-0."
Clark follows Shnowski and senior Jules Roussel who didn't receive a lot of mound time for the ‘Cats last season but will be the third pitcher in the rotation for Destrehan.
The fourth pitching spot will be decided in the pre-season with a couple of younger players vying for that spot. In 2006 the Wildcats were troubled by inexperience, with seven positions filled by first-time starters.
This year's team has the experience of losing some tough games to reflect on as learning experience and is led by a strong group of corps of juniors and seniors.
With a multi-faceted attack that allows coach Luquette to attack teams with the speed to manufacture runs or the power to change the outcome of a ballgame with one swing of the bat, the Wildcats look to make a serious run this season and are primed and ready to make some noise in District 5-5A.
Baseball season is upon us, can you smell the infield dirt?
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|Photo: By Nattie Swan|