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Riverside Academy returns to the diamond

RESERVE — Plans for a River Parish Metro Baseball League fell apart with schools coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic on different timelines.

While St. Charles Parish schools opted to not return to the baseball diamond until June 22 and St. Charles Catholic jumped into a Jefferson Parish league, Riverside Academy in Reserve started picking up games independently.

Riverside will compete at home against Lutcher on Monday evening and Walker High School (from Baton Rouge) on Tuesday evening. First-year coach Craig Laborde hopes to schedule more games as the summer progresses.

It isn’t a traditional summer league, but Laborde said the kids are just excited to be back on the field. Meanwhile, the 2020 baseball seniors have closed the books on high school and are moving forward to the next chapter of their lives.

“We offered to have the seniors come back if they wanted to play,” Laborde said. “We only had three seniors on this year’s team, and I think they have come to terms with what happened to them. They opted not to come back and work with us this summer. We’re going to honor them with a Senior Day during their first home game next season.”

All Louisiana High School Athletic Association safety protocols are being followed in accordance with the Phase Two Re-opening. All athletes are screened for fever upon reaching campus. Athletes with a temperature of 100.4 or above are required to return home until cleared by a doctor.

The baseball team is monitoring social distancing while in the batting cages and other close quarters. On the field, it’s business as usual.

The Rebels will be even younger next season, and Colby Wilson will be the sole returning senior. The junior class, however, will be substantial. Laborde said rising junior Andrew Jung is a talented first baseman with a powerful swing.

“He finished up what little bit of a prep season we had swinging a hot bat,” Laborde said. “We’re hoping he can stay aggressive at the plate.”

Incoming sophomore Luke Hymel may be young, but Laborde said he has the potential to lead the team.

“He’s still a really young kid, but he started for us this past year as a catcher as a freshman in an abbreviated season. He had two home runs for us,” Laborde said. “We’re really looking forward to what he can bring as he gets a little older because he’s got a world of potential.”