The name is as etched in St. Edmund baseball lore as the blue pinstripes on the team’s home white jerseys.
When the Eunice-based school was looking for a new coach following the 2014 season, one that ended without a state tournament bid for the fourth straight year, it knew exactly where to turn.
Scott Richard had a hand in five of the school’s six state baseball championships as a player and coach, and with the school looking to try to return to its glory days, there was no better person for the job that he previously held on three separate occasions.
“I think deep down I knew I would come back. I just didn’t know when,” Richard said. “This just kind of happened. The Good Lord just put it in front of me and I went with it.”
Eight years away from coaching the game was enough for Richard to embrace the opportunity of returning as the school’s baseball coach for a fourth time and guiding the Blue Jays back to prominence in Class 1A.
It’s been 15 years since St. Ed’s won the last of its six state championships, but Richard has the seventh-seeded Blue Jays (20-9) positioned for another run when they face sixth-seeded Central Catholic-Morgan City (23-4) in Friday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Class 1A state tournament.
The state semifinal is scheduled for 5 p.m. at McMurry Park’s Field No. 37 in Sulphur.
“St. Ed’s has had a baseball tradition for a long time,” Richard said. “That’s one thing our coaching staff wanted to get across to these kids. If you’re going to wear the blue and white, then you need to represent it like the guys that were here before you did.”
Richard managed to do both, serving as a player on the first St. Ed’s state championship club under coach Tom Andrus in 1980. Richard became the program’s head coach and promptly turned St. Ed’s into a dynasty with three state crowns (’88, ’91, ’96) over an eight-year span.
During his last coaching stint at the school, Richard also served as the school’s head football coach and was a teacher. He opted to leave in order to dedicate more of his time with his sister to a family-run business established by his father 40 years ago.
Eight years later, with the ever-present itch to coach again, coupled with all three of his children being within a semester of graduating from college, Richard took a leap of faith and hasn’t looked back.
Technically, it was Richard’s second trip back to the dugout with St. Ed’s. He was the team’s pitching coach several years earlier when his son was a member of the Blue Jays.
What he inherited was a program that was still a state-playoff staple with back-to-back trips to the semifinals (’09, ’10) but hadn’t advanced to a title game since Richard’s brother, Thad, coached the Jays to their last crown in ’98.
Richard has relied on a group of 13 upperclassmen to show the way in a season with its share of ebbs and flow that’s included a 17-4 start and 0-5 finish to the regular season.
They haven’t lost since.
After finishing second to rival Sacred Heart of Ville Platte in the District 5-1A race, St. Ed’s returned the favor in last week’s state quarterfinal matchup with a 4-2 victory to reach the state tournament.
“One of our assistants (Lewis Rider) said it was going to take some time to get these kids to believe in themselves, that they could win (big) again,” Richard said. “That stuck in the back of my mind and pretty much gave us a challenge.”