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1998 Season Was Memorable One For Comet Seniors

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 18, 1998

LAPLACE – Leadership is an important quality for any successful adventure, whether it be in business or on the athletic field.

One of the keys to the St. Charles Catholic Comets run to the statechampionship game Wednesday night against Pope John Paul II was the leadership provided by seniors Jason Gonzales, Jon Clement, Ty Monica and Brian Horvath. St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica said when the fourwere not leading verbally they were doing so by example.

The four said that they knew from the beginning of the season that a trip to the state championship was possible but that it was not until the Ridgewood game on April 2 that it started becoming a reality.

“We were down 6-0 and came back,” Gonzales, the team’s catcher, said.

We got some hits and started seeing the ball. That is what turned thewhole season around. I knew we could do it. I knew that we had a goodteam and that we could go for a ways in the playoffs.”Monica, the Comets’ center fielder, said getting the championship ring was a goal of the team since January.

“The first day of practice it was in the back of our minds,” Monica said.

“We knew we could make it.”One of the things that allowed the Comets to come as close as they did to that goal was the understanding they had of the importance of working together.

“We were pretty much a close team,” Clement, the team’s second baseman, said. “We had all good players and played good as a team. Wecame together and picked each other up. That is pretty much how it wentthe whole season.”That closeness intensified during the playoffs when the Comets celebrated everything from moving a runner over to hitting one out.

“We knew coming in it was a do or die situation,” Clement said.

“Everything counts in the playoffs, from the little things like a bunt to a three-run home run. It was a way to keep the intensity up and the fire upto go on to victory.”Even when the Comets fell down 2-0 to Loyola in the first inning of the semifinals, the Comets did not get down on themselves.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind,” Monica said. “I knew if we kept playingdefense we could score runs. We have been going that way the whole year.It just didn’t happen (in the championship game).”The 1998 season was a year of transition for the Comets as Frank Monica took over as head coach from Paul Burgard. Horvath said it took a while toget accustomed to the different styles of coaching.

“It was weird at first with the new coach and new system,” Horvath, the Comets’ shortstop, said. “It took awhile to get used to it but we realizedwhat he was doing was for the best for the club. We got used to his styleof coaching and it all came together and started winning ballgames.”As for the future, Gonzales said playing in the championship game will help the team next year.

“It will help a lot,” Gonzales said. “They are going to have thatexperienced. They have a real good club coming back. They have the acepitchers and the seniors will give good leadership. It is going to be a goodall-around team.”All four seniors said this past year was the most memorable of their careers.

“I had a lot of fun this year,” Ty Monica said. “We had a lot of memoriesas a team. “I knew it was my last game and I had a frog in my throat. Ijust wish we could have gone out with one more big bang.”

Photo: St. Charles Catholic Coach Frank Monica (fourth from left) consolesseniors Jason Gonzales, Jon Clement, Brian Horvath an Ty Monica after the Comets’ 12-7 loss in the Class 2A championship game Wednesday night.

Photo by Michael Kiral.

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