Delhomme Drillers’ baseball coach Donnie Boutin believed all of the elements were in place for his team to make a serious run at the American Legion state championship and beyond, but a numbers hurdle derailed those hopes.
“I had people tell me we would have been able to win state and probably go all the way to the World Series and make a run at that also,” Boutin said. “We really did have that much talent on the team.”
A year after falling in the state championship game to Jesuit-based Retif Oil, 1-0, Delhomme returned five starters and with plenty of optimism.
The Drillers, a team comprised of players from Acadiana and Lafayette High captured the Southwest Louisiana district, going 9-2 and posted a 17-2 overall mark.
However, instead of making an expected deep run later this month for the state championship, Delhomme’s season is over.
Boutin confirmed that his team, which carried a 17-player roster throughout the season, would fall below the American Legion minimum of having 12 players to compete for the entire state tournament.
“American Legion has strict rules, and I don’t blame them,” Boutin said. “Times have changed where people don’t commit and stay on a team the way it used to be.”
Gulf Coast Bank of Abbeville and Opelousas-based St. Landry Bank will represent the Southwest Louisiana district at the state tournament July 23-27 at Kirsch Rooney Field in New Orleans.
“We were looking forward to it,” Boutin said. “We still talk about what a great atmosphere it was to play last year. Whether we won or lost, we were looking forward to just being in that atmosphere. It was a great experience.
“When we got back from the state tournament last year, I said next year we weren’t losing this thing,” Boutin said. “I started planning the week after we lost. I did as much as I could. I thought I had the guys, but God had a different plan.”
Boutin said once rosters are submitted and approved in June the American Legion office does not allow for any modifications.
Boutin said he communicated to his players a timeline for the season on several occasions, finally realizing there may be a problem after Delhomme completed district play.
Five players indicated they had conflicts, while another, who could play the first two days of the tournament, is taking college classes starting July 25 and wasn’t granted permission from his coach to participate.
“I did some begging to get one of them to change plans and commit to coming,” Boutin said. “I needed one guy to come and sit and just be with us and couldn’t do it.”
Boutin said he called the league office July 4, informing them his team would not have the needed 12 players for the entire tournament and couldn’t play.
Because he called in advance of the release of the state tournament bracket, Boutin said Delhomme won’t be suspended from American Legion play next summer, a fate suffered by Crowley which bowed out just before the start of last year’s tournament when its roster dropped below 12 players.
“We had experience, guys that were hot and had great seasons,” Boutin said. “It was clicking and didn’t see any hiccups until that last day. We had some talent. It’s unfortunate.”