Teurlings Catholic baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux has been here before.
The fifth-seeded Rebels have won their first five games in the Class 4A playoffs and now face the challenge of trying to take down top-seeded Tioga in a semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament Thursday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
Teurlings seniors will look to bookend their careers with state championships, and they’ll do so under a seasoned veteran in Thibodeaux.
This will be Thibodeaux’s fourth trip to the 4A state semifinals in his eight seasons at Teurlings, the past two being in 2010 and 2012 when he led the Rebels to state titles.
“Before that first state championship, you always wonder if you have what it takes,” Thibodeaux said. “You wonder if you’re doing the things you need to do to win a state championship, so once you accomplish one, you definitely have the confidence that we can do this.”
Thibodeaux’s success is a direct result of his coaching style. He coaches an unselfish brand of baseball.
There are no “stars” that play for Teurlings or any specific players that carry the Rebels to victory.
For Thibodeaux, it’s all about building a family that depends on each person. He wants his players to build relationships with each other that last for years, and he gives them the tools to succeed in life after their baseball career ends.
That’s why Thibodeaux said he will consider this season a success before the Rebels even take the field Thursday afternoon.
“My mission is accomplished as far as teaching these kids values and trying to get them to understand that it’s all about relationships and developing a work ethic that will allow you to be successful in life,” Thibodeaux said. “And if you do that, and you have enough talent to go along with it, then you can play for championships, and that’s where we are now.”
That’s not to say Teurlings won’t do everything it can to add a third state championship trophy to Thibodeaux’s collection.
The Rebels have bought into Thibodeaux’s system, and that has led to them catching fire at the right time. They are the only Class 4A team to sweep their opponents in second- and third-round playoff series, leaving them as the lone squad to enter the semifinals without a loss in the playoffs.
And they have every intention of riding that momentum straight to the program’s sixth state title.
“The process to get to this point has just been so enjoyable,” Thibodeaux said. “Each team is different, but this year’s team earned this opportunity. Nothing was given to them, and they’re not satisfied. They want to win a state championship.
“We’re not going to go out there and just be happy to be in the state tournament. It’s an honor and a blessing, but there’s more work to do. We’d like to play two more games, and we’d like to win them both.