Rebels look for stride this April

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

RESERVE — Standing at 10-9-2 after a Monday win, the Riverside Academy Rebels baseball team is struggling to keep pace with a demanding schedule allowing little time to refocus strategy and correct mistakes.

The Rebels claimed the state championship only a year ago, but the big win gave way to a period of adjustment as the team lost nine graduating seniors.

Jordan Loving takes a swing for the Rebels. Coach Frank Cazeaux said the senior delivers on and off the field for Riverside Academy.

Head coach Frank Cazeaux said this year’s squad is starting to see a lot of new players come into their own amid limited practice times.

April performance always sets the stage for a playoff run, and Cazeaux said there is time for the guys to find success.

“Baseball is a long season,” Cazeaux said. “You only have so many teams that are going to go 31-5 or 31-2. You don’t have to be undefeated to win the state championship. The guys are trying their best, and I think it’s just a matter of time before they kick it into gear.

“Bone-headed mistakes” such as failing to throw to the right base, slacking in defensive coverage and losing focus before the end of the game must be addressed for the team to improve, Cazeaux said.

First year starter Hunter Landry has proven a steady force for the Rebels.

He and his coaching staff are taking a more verbal approach to promote consistent intensity during games now that it’s crunch time.

“I’m looking for us to turn the corner and do well moving forward,” Cazeaux said. “We’re trying hard at times and the enthusiasm is there, but we give in a lot easier than I would like.”

That’s not to say the Rebels haven’t shown strength on the field.

Cazeaux said the team’s five seniors have stepped up and shown tremendous leadership. He’s especially pleased with Jared Hymel and Jordan Loving, who have helped carry the team with strong arms and steady hitting.

Hymel is a left handed power hitter committed to playing baseball for the University of New Orleans once his high school career is up, and he’s proved himself a true athlete capable of molding into different positions.

“Jared’s true position is third base, but we moved him to shortstop about three weeks ago,” Cazeaux said. “He’s our best athlete for that position, and he’s starting to fill into that spot.”

Thus far, Hymel has 26 runs batted in and is maintaining a .400 average.

Cazeaux described Loving as a three-sport athlete at Riverside who always brings something to the table.

“Every time Jordan comes to the ballpark, he gives you everything you want from a player, whether it’s leadership, a two-run double or striking out 12,” Cazeaux said.

Zack Gieger, last year’s leadoff hitter and top batter, remains a powerful force for the 2018 Rebels.

An ankle injury sustained two weeks ago negatively impacted his performance, but Cazeaux is certain Gieger is a winner who will continue to pull the team forward once he heals.

Returning player Dane Edler started in centerfield during last year’s championship win, and he’s been handed additional responsibilities this year.

“We’re asking him to play multiple positions now, from the outfield to a utility infielder,” Cazeaux said. “It’s a big adjustment for him, but that’s what we’ve got to do to put the best guys on the field.”

First year starter Hunter Landry has been a steady offensive and defensive force and a great team player this season.

Noah Bailey rounds out the list of standout forces on the team. Cazeaux said Bailey is small but tough-as-nails, and always gives his best effort.