Never have the sounds of the waves crashing in and the feel of the warm sand resonated so well with Teurlings Catholic baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux.
A family trip to the beach for Father’s Day weekend — more than a month since Teurlings’ Class 4A state championship – will be equal parts therapeutic mixed with plenty of perspective.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of time to stop and reflect,” Thibodeaux said. “It will all hit me when I get to the beach.”
Even though Teurlings capped its 35-4 season with a 3-2 victory over West Ouachita on May 14, the Rebels have continued adding to their legacy since center fielder Jacob Richard recorded the final out.
Teurlings, which closed with six consecutive wins, concluded the year ranked in four national polls, including No. 9 by MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25 and No. 10 in the USA Today/Super 25.
Moreover, the Rebels are ranked No. 12 by Perfect Game and No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball News.
“It’s a tribute to the incredible season that we had,” Thibodeaux said. “We had great leadership from our seniors, a tremendous amount of sacrifice from all of our players and families to make this season possible.”
The catalyst for the school’s best season was the disappointment of a state runner-up finish in 2015 to St. Thomas More.
Thibodeaux laid out an ambitious plan last summer that would not only challenge his team on a local scale, but statewide and nationally as well.
The objectives were to:
Win the Class 4A state championship
Exceed the school’s single-season wins total of 30
Earn the program’s first national ranking
Win the District 4-4A championship.
“When I laid it out, we were losing a great senior class,” Thibodeaux said. “Then you looked at these young players and wondered what they were capable of. You’re not sure if they’re going to mature and step into the roles the team has for them.”
The pieces to this year’s puzzle proved to be a perfect fit.
With the groundwork complete during a successful summer and offseason program, Teurlings embarked on its season of promise with a 15-0 loss to Barbe in a spring scrimmage.
“We looked back and felt we hadn’t played that bad,” Thibodeaux said. “But we just got smoked. We wondered if we were going to find that level or could we get there?
Teurlings began the season 3-2 before rattling off nine straight wins until losing its third game to a Class 5A team in Catholic-Baton Rouge.
Not to worry, though. The Rebels didn’t lose for another month — a stretch of 17 victories that included the bulk of the work on the district championship and catapulting themselves onto the national scene.
Teurlings overcame a late deficit, and LSU commitment Nick Webre homered for a dramatic 6-5 victory April 8 over previously undefeated and nationally ranked Blessed Trinity of Roswell, Goergia.
Before the start of the postseason, Thibodeaux, whose team lost 8-5 to Ouachita Christian in a regular-season finale, conducted a quick history lesson with his club on some of the greatest baseball teams record wise — college or professional — that stumbled short of the finish line.
“I wanted to know if they were satisfied or if they wanted to go on and get the state championship,” he said.
Even deeper was a desire for this year’s team to set itself apart from the school’s previous five state champions. They adopted the acronym: GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) that was another driving force, especially at the state tournament when the Rebels rallied for one-run wins over Breaux Bridge and West Ouachita.
“That’s what showed what this team was all about, Thibodeaux said. “The toughness. … The grinding aspect, the hard-working character that defined this team.”