Lyons: St. Charles Catholic baseball team winning despite losses

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The St. Charles Catholic baseball team has heard people say this is supposed to be a  “down” year for the Comets.

In other words, don’t expect too much.

Coach Wayne Stein certainly understands why people would think that.

He did lose eight starters from last year’s Class 2A state runner-up team.

Only outfielder Lloyd Nash returned and he still had to move to another spot.

So the Comets get it, but they’re also out to prove everybody wrong.

Heading into this week, St. Charles Catholic was 15-9.

More importantly, the Comets are 4-0 in District 12-2A play.

Most importantly, they are No. 4 in the power rankings, which will determine their playoff seeding when the brackets are released April 23.

Of course they all have their sights set on Sulphur, where the first Division III champion will be crowned.

Stein would not be surprised at all if this team gets there.

“What I love about St. Charles Catholic and what keeps me coming back (is), in my 14 years here, when I challenge my kids, they respond,” Stein said. “They always answer the bell.”

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but things started off nicely, Stein said.

“The first 10 or 11 games we picked up right where we left off,” he said. “We had the momentum still going from last year. We weren’t thinking about being young. We were 7-4. We felt pretty good.”

Then came a trip to St. Amant to face ace pitcher Blayne Enlow, one of the top prospects in the country.

“We battle our butts off,” Stein said. “He strikes out 12 but we get five hits and we lose 1-0. We walk away from there 7-5 and still feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

But there’s almost always a lull.

There was a loss to Lutcher, another to Lakewood and another to Covenant Christian.

“Next thing we know, we’re 8-8,” Stein said. “I’m a power points guy and I’m looking at them saying, ‘Are we going to make the playoffs?’ We’re 11th and only 16 teams get in. I’m not even thinking about a home game at this point.”

Things did turn around, though.

Evan Pfister tossed a shutout against Teurlings Catholic on March 23 and they did not lose again until Monday.  That’s seven straight wins, including a pair over Newman and, last week, a sweep of arch-rival Riverside in the toughest week ever.

Just days before, the Comets lost a classmate. Senior Evan Simoneaux was killed in a car crash April 2. His funeral was Saturday.

“It was a tough week,” Stein said.

This one got off to a rough start.

Monday the Comets battled Holy Cross through 12 innings before taking a 6-5 loss.

The Comets have done all this without ace pitcher Brennan Gilberti, who is nursing an injured shoulder.

Stein credits hard work, especially from seniors Dustin Mire and Jayce Tamplain.

“They weren’t even in the lineup when the season started,” Stein said.

“Rather than sit in the corner and pouting, they kept working until they got their shot. Once they got their shot they’ve been lights out.”

The team also got a boost from freshman Kaile Levitino, who got the Comets out of a bases-loaded jam against Riverside.

“He’s shown so much poise,” Stein said.

“We introduced him to the world against St. Amant with 20 scouts in the stands there to see Enlow. We bring him in with bases loaded against Riverside and he strikes out the side. We’re cheering and going nuts and he just walks off the field like, ‘what did I do?’ He’s going to be real special.”

Stein said he is thrilled to see his team respond the way it has.

“This team keeps being told that they’re not as good as last year,” Stein said.

“Then they do something that last year’s team didn’t do. We didn’t sweep Newman last year. We didn’t sweep Riverside last year. I want them to start thinking, ‘hey, maybe we have something here. Maybe we’re not as bad as people think.”

Lori Lyons is sports editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or