Wildcats out to build on last year’s late-season momentum

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / Febuary 24, 1999

LAPLACE – First-year East St. John head baseball coach Carey Ourso got aup-front look at the Wildcats last year as head coach at Thibodaux.

In the final game of the season, the Wildcats rallied with five runs in the bottom of the seventh to end Thibodaux’s hopes of an undefeated district season. East St. John used the momentum from that game to advance to thestate playoffs where they eventually fell to Josh Jeekel and Belaire in the regional playoffs.

With most of the talent back from that team that went 15-15 overall and with a renewed focus expected by the new coach, the Wildcats will be in the hunt for their first district title since 1996.

One of the team’s strengths will be its pitching staff. Returning to themound is senior Samson Monica, L’Observateur’s River Parishes MVP a year ago. Monica finished the season with a 7-5 record, a 2.22 earned runaverage and 82 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.

Following Monica in the rotation is senior Kent Roussell, junior Randy Sutherland and sophomore Rodrick Marshall. Coming out of the bullpen areseniors Jerome Anderson, Lance Barnes and Jeremy Mitchell and juniors Terron Charles and Michael Brown.

“The pitching staff is good,” Ourso said. “We have some guys back thathave some experience. I don’t feel we will lose games because of pitchingthis year.”The team’s biggest strength will be its overall speed. Center fielderRoydell Williams is the team’s leading base stealer with 20 but almost everybody in the lineup can run.

“Speed is definitely going to be a strong point,” Ourso said. “Nothing cancontrol our speed except us.”Brandon Mason makes the move from catcher to second base this year and will lead off. Randy Sutherland will bat second and play left field.Williams, a .435 hitter last year, will bat third followed by first basemanJeremy Mitchell who batted .401 a year ago.Monica will play short when not pitching and bat fifth. He is the team’sleading returning hitter with a .438 average, five home runs and 36 runsbatted in. Roderick Marshall will be the designated hitter and bat sixth.Jerome Anderson bats seventh and plays third. Tie Reese takes over forMason behind the plate and bats eighth followed by Kent Roussell who will play right field.

The Wildcats showed both power and speed in opening its season Saturday against Lutcher in the St. Charles Catholic Jamboree. After Roussellpitched out of a jam in the first, Mason led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, stole second and came in to score on a wild pitch. With twoouts, Roussell walked and Monica homered to right, giving the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.

A home run to right by Charles made it 4-0 in the bottom of the second after Marshall pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the frame. Williamsshut down the Bulldogs in the top of the third then scored in the bottom of the inning after reaching on a fielder’s choice.

East St. John opened its season at Assumption Tuesday and will play in theLouisiana-Arkansas Challenge this weekend in Shreveport. The homeopener is March 9 against Riverside. District 6-5A play begins March 25 atSouth Lafourche.

“We have to prepare to play our game to beat the best teams,” Ourso said.

“Our game plan is to be where we are going to be able to beat a Jeekel at Belaire or a West at West Monroe.

“We are going to get better. Just from our first scrimmage to our second,there was a big difference. The kids are more confident. I see lots ofimprovement from this group of kids.”

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