As district play begins this week, a Destrehan team that raced out to a strong start is attempting to find its footing once again after a pair of tight losses.
The Wildcats fell in their district opener Tuesday, a 4-3 road loss at Central Lafourche decided when the Trojans pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Noah Simon led Destrehan (8-8-1) at the plate, going 3-for-3. Seven different DHS players collected at least one hit – DHS outhit CLHS 9-2 – but Central Lafourche starting pitcher Jade Morvant was able to limit the damage, as was Steven Malbrough, who earned the win in 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Morvant struck out seven, walked one and allowed one earned run (three total) on seven hits.
Gage Harding took a tough luck loss, allowing four unearned runs on two hits and four walks. He struck out three. Brayden Marcotte pitched an inning of scoreless, hitless relief and struck out two while walking one.
Destrehan had a chance to tie in each of the last two innings, including the bottom of the seventh when Simon drew a leadoff walk, reaching base for the fourth time on the day. Carmichael singled with one out to push Simon over to third base. But Malbrough secured a foul out and a strikeout to seal the win. In the bottom of the sixth, DHS got its first two baserunners on when Clouatre and Granier singled, but could not push a run across.
Central scored the eventual game winning run on a sacrifice bunt RBI by Zach Hodson.
That game came on the heels of a 2-0 loss at home Saturday to Jesuit and a 3-2 victory over Brother Martin on Friday.
The latter game snapped a slump for Destrehan, which began the season 7-2-1 prior to a meeting with Zachary that left the team in a bit of a haze. Zachary won that game 4-1 behind pitcher Lane Felder, who tossed a no-hitter.
“Baseball is such a mental game, and I think it took us three or four games to snap out of that funk,” said Destrehan head coach Chris Mire. “It seemed to weigh on us awhile. I thought against Brother Martin, we really got back to playing good baseball. Jesuit was a tough loss, but I thought we played well.
“This is a good group, there are some growing pains we just have to deal with. Our best baseball is ahead of us, I think.”
The DHS pitching has been on point for most of the year, but Mire noted the offense and, at times, defense has been up and down. Tightening up those areas could push Destrehan into where it would like to be down the stretch of the season.
“(The pitching staff) has given us good outings and are giving us a chance to stay in games and find ways to win,” Mire said. “
Simon and John Carmichael have been leaders both on the mound and offensively. Seth Kinney, Mire said, had an uncertain role prior to the season – between being a starter or reliever – but has taken the ball and pitched well against some of the Wildcats’ toughest opponents, starting games against John Curtis, St. Paul, Zachary and Rummel. And Riley Cardinal, the Wildcats’ catcher, has been “our rock,” Mire said, behind the plate.
Many of the Wildcats were either first-time starters in last year’s COVID-shortened campaign or earned jobs for the first time this season. Mire has a lot of confidence in a group that digs in each day and works. With a season of reps lost, though, patience is a virtue.
“We knew coming in we’d have to learn on the fly,” Mire said. “Especially after last year, though, when we were sidelined by COVID, you get some perspective from it. You learn to really appreciate the effort you see and those moments of growth that come throughout the season.”