When Destrehan and Hahnville face off next prep baseball season, the games will certainly be heated once again – but each player might view the opposition through a slightly different lens.
These Wildcats and Tigers, after all, were teammates this summer.
That unique twist was added onto one of prep baseball’s most intense rivalries when DHS coach Chris Mire and HHS coach Jared Vial agreed to try a new approach with their summer ball itinerary. Each school put together an 18U team (The Renegades East and Renegades West, respectively) and a 16U team (under the same name) to play out a schedule of games in June. Following that, Mire and Vial each took 10 players from their teams for 18U and 15U age groups to form an All-Star Renegades collaborative.
The first week saw the Renegades travel to Hoover, Alabama. The second saw the older group play in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the younger group to Lafayette. The third and final tournament saw both teams travel to Nashville, Tennessee.
“We thought about playing in the Crescent City League again,” said Vial, noting the local league HHS played in last summer. “But given the talent we each had coming in and the talent we currently have at both programs, and the chance for additional exposure to colleges and recruiting, we wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to compete against the best possible competition.”
While the idea of the two rival squads joining forces might seem unnatural to some, the pairing of coaches was certainly anything but. Vial served as assistant coach on Mire’s staff at Destrehan prior to returning to his alma mater to take the helm of the HHS baseball program.
“We wanted to come together with guys we felt were ready to play against some really high level competition,” Mire said. “The best way to do that was to combine rosters like an All-Star team. Those three weekends in July saw us play some highly competitive tournaments across the Southeast.
Both the 18U and 15U teams faced off against teams featuring several college committed players, meaning wins would need to be truly earned.
The 15U team went 7-6 and showcased the bright future both the Tigers and Wildcats will be ushering in during the coming years.
The 18U team, meanwhile, never truly had a chance to play with its entire roster intact, between injuries and other commitments requiring some lineup shuffling from weekend to weekend. In spite of that, the Nashville tourney saw the Renegades go unbeaten in pool play and march all the way to the tourney semifinals.
“The guys we had who were left standing by the end, they really stepped up,” Mire said. ‘It was really good experience for those guys and I think it let them know how good they could really be, given that competition.”
As always, however, the summer is a tool to learn what a program can expect from its returning players for next prep season.
Mire noted Jonah Haslauer surged in summer ball, and though Haslauer was only able to play on one of the three weekend tournaments in July, his summer performance as a whole brings forth plenty of optimism.
“He had a really good summer. I thought he had a bit of a down year in prep, but he really bounced back, especially on the mound. He threw really well for us,” Mire said.
Brady Mire and Jayse DeGruy were two others Mire said stepped forward in a big way.
“I think Brady is starting to really figure out who he is as a player. He’s playing the way we thought he could. Jayse had a strong summer last year, then a strong prep season and followed that up with another big summer. He’s starting to get some looks at the next level,” Chris Mire said.
Hahnville’s Truman Moyer improved his batting average from .315 in the prep season to .425 over the summer weeks.
“He played really well throughout the summer process,” Vial said.
Beau Parker hit .375 during the summer, while Noah Chauvin continued his strong pitching from prep ball, Vial said. Talan Theriot was strong again as well, Vial said, though his time with the team was split with other travel ball commitments.
Vial said though the teams joined forces, the competition was still ongoing – just in a different way.
“I think it just makes the rivalry in the spring even better,” said Vial. “(In practice) you’re trying to outdo that Destrehan player. In the spring we’re competing against each other, but here you’re trying to outdo one another. Nobody wanted to underperform.”
Mire echoed the idea that it only makes the prep games between the archrivals better.
“I think it changes the dynamic from an animosity to a respect … you know these guys and you know their talent, and now you know you have to step your game up. I think it leads to better baseball and better games,” Mire said.