Coach Stein steps down from baseball as Comets clinch back-to-back State Championships

Published 6:13 pm Saturday, May 13, 2023

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SULPHUR — Coach Wayne Stein watched his team storm the field with the state championship trophy for the fourth time in less than 18 months.

St. Charles Catholic now holds back-to-back state titles in football and baseball following Friday night’s 9-1 victory against Holy Savior Menard Friday evening during the Select Division III state finals in Sulphur.

In a post-game huddle, Stein revealed what had become a poorly kept secret. After 10 years of leading the baseball program at St. Charles Catholic, Stein is taking a step back to focus on football.

He said the decision boiled down to being able to spend more time with his three young children. Softball coach Ty Monica will lead the baseball program moving forward.

“We’ve been in the football state championship and the baseball state championship for four straight years. When you make late runs in both sports, there’s not a whole lot of space in between,” Stein said. “It’s not that I’m never going to coach baseball again. It’s just that right now, this is what’s best for me and my family, and I think this is what’s best for St. Charles.

There are things that I know I could do a better job at in all three of those phases (football, baseball, and serving as athletic director) that I’ve struggled with because of my commitment to all of them.”

St. Charles Catholic has carried a strong baseball tradition since Stein was a member of the team more than two decades ago. Friday’s win marked the program’s third state championship in the past five years after several seasons of falling just short of the title.

“For a long time, we were always the bridesmaid. We played in a lot of state championships and couldn’t break through. Just like anything, once it happened the first time, it became possible, and then it became the standard,” Stein said.

While this year’s group was not the strongest offensively, a star-studded pitching staff led the Comets to more than 30 wins in the regular season. Brady St. Pierre, Brandon Kragle, Michael Hotard, Jackson Monica, Brayden Bertucci and Ayden Authement threw more than 200 innings combined.

Kragle threw six and one-third innings against Holy Savior Menard Friday, striking out eight and allowing only one run on four hits before being relieved by Michael Hotard.

“Brandon Kragle was lights out. I really wanted him to finish, but he got to almost 110 pitches, and it was time to throw someone else,” Stein said. “Mike Hotard came in and got the last two outs. He’s been dominant for most of his career. Last year, he was the guy who pitched for our state championship.”

St. Charles Catholic came up big in the fifth inning with runs batted in by Hotard, St. Pierre, Authement, Monica, and Hudson Heltz. Authement led the team with three hits, earning him the MVP title.

“He’s been a winner his whole career. St. Charles is going to miss him,” Stein said. “He’s the last of five Authements to play for us. Next year will be the first time in almost 20 years that we won’t have an Authement playing for us at St. Charles Catholic.”

Stein credited the success in recent years to the assistant coaches, support from parents and school administration, and, most of all, the no-quit attitude shared by each of the athletes.

“Our kids have worked their butts off,” Stein said. “They make it look easy, but it’s far from easy to do what they do.”