All-St. John baseball: Vicknair repeats as Outstanding Player, Cazeaux named top coach
Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 3, 2017
RESERVE — Mason Vicknair was nervous about his senior season at Riverside Academy.
After putting up tremendous numbers in his junior year and earning his status as the Class 2A baseball Player of the Year and L’OBSERVATEUR’s All-St. John Player of the Year, Vicknair felt the pressure to perform in his final turn as a Rebel.
Coach Frank Cazeaux had to talk him down.
“I talked to Coach Caz a lot at the beginning of the year,” Vicknair said.
“He told me he’s seen a lot of seniors let the pressure get to them because they try to push and push and do too much. He just told me to relax.”
It was good advice.
Despite a nagging shoulder injury that kept him off the mound for several weeks of the season, Vicknair put up numbers that once again earned him the All-St. John Player of the Year honor.
The Delgado Community College signee hit .405 with a team-leading (and Metro area tying) 10 home runs. He also drove in a team-leading 40 runs.
“I was seeing the ball really well this year,” he said.
Hitters didn’t want to see him, though.
Although he didn’t pitch as much as he wanted to because of his aching shoulder, Vicknair pitched when it mattered.
That included the “big game,” the Division III state championship game against Ouachita Christian on May 13.
He threw a complete game shutout, giving up seven hits and striking out six, pitching out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the third. He left runners at second and third twice.
He also robbed the Eagles of a couple of hits with some highlight reel catches.
“Coach told me while I was doing rehab, the only way I’d pitch again was if we reached the championship,” Vicknair said.
After teammate Jordan Loving pitched the victory in the semifinal game against Opelousas Catholic, he said he was thinking of Vicknair.
“I just wanted to give him a chance to pitch in the championship game,” Loving said.
It’s that kind of cohesiveness that helped the Rebels win their school’s third baseball championship, its first since 2006. The football team won its first LHSAA title in December.
It was the first title for Cazeaux since taking over at Riverside in 2015. He previously won a title at Archbishop Rummel in 2007.
He has been selected L’OBSERVATEUR’s Coach of the Year.
“I knew, having Mason on the mound, he wasn’t going to leave anything out there,” Cazeaux said.
Although the team lost to its arch-rival St. Charles Catholic for the district title, the Rebels finished 35-11 and as the No. 4 seed in the newly split Division III bracket.
“I had a good feeling about this group,” Cazeaux said.
The St. Charles Comets seem to always get the better of Riverside Academy in baseball. In the last 23 meetings going back to 2008, the Rebels have won only two. Last year they were eliminated in the Class 2A semifinals by their rival.
Coach Wayne Stein did a noble job getting his team, which returned only one starter from last year’s Class 2A state runner-up squad, to the top of the District 12-2A standings, then back to Sulphur for the state tournament.
The Comets started the season 8-8 then won 17 of their last 19 games.
Their run ended in the Division III semifinals with a 7-1 loss to Ouachita Christian.