300th win casts light on Waguespack’s consistency

Published 12:59 pm Friday, March 15, 2013



LAPLACE – St. Charles Catholic baseball coach Paul Waguespack is quick to note that the SCC baseball program was strong before he became head coach. He believes it will continue to be strong when he hands his post off to assistant coach Wayne Stein at season’s end, and far beyond that when Stein ultimately gives way to his eventual successor.

“I’m just the keeper of the torch,” said Waguespack. “This program’s been to the playoffs for 28 straight seasons.”

But the veteran coach’s most recent career milestone casts a larger light on what’s been a run of almost absurd consistency: with his team’s 1-0 victory over Central at last weekend’s Denham Springs tournament, Waguespack nailed down his 300th career head coaching victory, officially coming in the seventh game of his 13th season as Comets’ skipper.

To put that number in perspective, consider that Waguespack ended last season with 297 career victories. Over 12 years, that puts his Comet teams at an average of 24.75 wins per season.

Only twice, in fact, has a Waguespack team failed to win 20 games in a season, and one of those was a 19 win campaign.

“It’s hard to believe,” he said. “I could never, ever have expected this in my wildest dreams. I don’t care who you’re playing, it’s a great accomplishment. To average over 24 wins a year, that in itself blows my mind.”

He credited his players and assistant coaches, saying they’ve made it all possible.

“To me, it says that I’ve had a bunch of good ball players come through this program over the years,” said Waguespack. “I’ve had great assistant coaches. Wayne’s been here the last 10. My son (Chris) is in his third year helping us out … I’m just the guy that gets the credit for it, but the bottom line is that players go out there and win the games. I’ve just been blessed to have guys that have come in and bought into our program.”

Making the mark even more impressive is that a majority of those wins came against top notch competition. The coach makes no secret that he believes the only way to truly prepare his team to be the best it can be for a playoff run is to play the best the state has to offer.

“Our guys joke and say, ‘We’ll play the Cardinals, the Red Sox, whoever you put on the schedule, we aren’t afraid,’” Waguespack said. “I know that at the end of the day, the best thing for us is to challenge these kids.”

In many ways, the 300th victory summed up many of the hallmarks that Waguespack’s program has been built upon. The coach historically preaches small ball and the art of a well-placed bunt; the Comets generated the game’s winning run in the seventh inning when Dylan Gillies bunted Justin Ory over to second base; a balk moved Ory to third, and David Bleakley hit a sacrifice fly to score him.

Then, on the mound, one could see another staple of Waguespack teams: strong left-handed pitching. This time it was Connor Smith, who cemented a complete game shutout to earn the victory in his coach’s 300th win.

“It all starts with strong pitching and defense. Especially pitching,” said Waguespack. “Throw strikes and good things will come. Offensively, we play Comet baseball. We’re gonna bunt the ball and play small ball.”

The one thing that has eluded Waguespack over his run has been a state championship – though the Comets have come very close. Waguespack’s Comet teams have finished as state runner-up four times in the last eight years, the last time coming in 2009.

“We’ve actually been in a dry spell,” said Waguespack. “This senior class doesn’t want to go down as the only one to not go to the state tournament (in Waguespack’s tenure). That’s what’s been pushing this team.”

While Waguespack is stepping down as head coach at season’s end, he’s not going anywhere. He and Stein will effectively switch roles, with Waguespack stepping into the assistant’s role.

“I’ll have a little different perspective,” he said. “I’m not ready for it to be over just yet, though. I’m enjoying the ride.”

And while he’s proud of his 300th win, there’s still at least one more victory on his radar that would mean so much more to him.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” he said. “But I’d much rather win our last game of the year.”