Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2008


Sports Editor

If the official end of prep baseball season two weeks has got you down, fear not, die-hards.

The prep season may be over, but there should be no shortage of action on the diamond this summer, as East St. John, St. Charles, and Riverside-based summer league teams all have a full slate of games scheduled, beginning this week.

For East St. John and St. Charles, each enters the summer coming off seasons on the opposite end of the spectrum. SCC, which will play under the Townsend Homes name that it did a year ago, just made its third trip to the state championship game in the past five seasons, falling in the 3A title game to Parkview Baptist.

The Comets enter the summer hoping to build off of its late playoff run. But the events of this summer could be even more important to East St. John, which is coming off of a disappointing finish in District 6-5A play.

The Wildcats lost their first nine district games before scoring wins over rivals Destrehan and Hahnville, and finished 2-13 in district play. They will enter this summer having lost only three seniors, and ESJ coach Ryan Sims hopes that the summer will see a number of players step up, leading to better things in 2009.

Sims says that the summer schedule will be about evaluation, first and foremost.

“It’s an assessment period,” Sims said. “We’ll see what we have coming back, and begin to set our lineup and our roster.”

East St. John has lost its top player, senior Corwin Brown, and will now look to others to step up and begin to fill the void.

Centerfielder Reynaldo Young, who will be a senior, is one that Sims expects to take a lead role, beginning with this summer slate.

“I look for him to become more of a leader this year,” said Sims. “He’ll use the summer to improve his game all around.”

That improvement could begin to show on Monday. East St. John will open up at home against St. Augustine, the first of three consecutive home games from Monday to Wedensday.

A clash with Riverside awaits on Tuesday, in which local fans can sample the future prospects of each team.

A great deal of youth will be on display in these games as well, as Sims wants to see his more inexperienced players in game action.

Mainly, though, he hopes to see improvement in the team’s starting pitching, which he cites as his main focus this summer.

“It’s paramount,” Sims says. “It’s something we’ve got to see round into form this summer. We’ll be focused on it all summer long.”

Brighton Trepagnier, Sims says, will have a chance to establish himself as the team’s top pitcher.

“We need him to step up and be our ace,” he said.

The job of St. Charles’ ace, meanwhile, is secure. Marc Picciola entered this past season as the expected anchor of the rotation, but injury derailed the plan for most of the year.

But Picciola returned late in the season to go 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA, including three playoff wins, cementing his slot atop the rotation next season.

He will pitch this summer, but the pecking order behind him is to be determined. Lefthanders Brady Hitt and Jared Keating, freshmen last season, will be among the arms at SCC Coach Paul Waguespack’s disposal along with Alex Marse, Nick Reine, Henri Fauchier, Brandon Becker, and returning graduates B.J. Cancienne and Steven Duhe.

Those arms will all be needed, as St. Charles has scheduled 20 games, by far the most that Waguespack has scheduled for a summer season.

“If there’s a summer to do it, this is the one,”

Though Waguespack says he’s proud of what his team accomplished this past season, it doesn’t change the fact that the year ended with a loss. And that makes him anxious to get the summer underway.

“I’m excited to get back to the summer. The disappointment of the finish, it will be good to get the taste of victory back in our mouths,” Waguespack said.

Outfielder Grant Authemont, Waguespack says, has already impressed this summer in early practice, and the coach hopes he continues to assert himself.

“Authemont, Hitt, Keating, these are guys that have a chance to step in and replace the production of the three (graduating seniors),” Waguespack said. “Grant got hurt at our tournament this year, and got knocked out of our regular rotation as a result. He’s been a pleasant surprise, so far.”

Unlike East St. John, which is playing a non-Legion summer schedule, St. Charles/Townsend Homes is vying to make the district postseason, which four teams from its “Western division” will advance to.

Last season, the Hahnville based Otto Candies team knocked Townsend Homes out via a walk-off home run in the Second District playoffs.

Waguespack wants to see it taken a step further this year.

“We do use the Legion games more for preparation. But we would like to advance as far as we can,” he said. “We were a strike away from advancing last season. To get to the sub-regional would be great exposure for the program, and a great experience for these kids.”

Within the Townsend District are teams based from Riverside, East Jefferson, Hahnville, john Curtis, Holy Cross and Destrehan.

Townsend opens the season Tuesday, against Jesuit, at Comet Field.