As big as it gets: Lafayette rivals St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic clash for Class 4A baseball state title _lowres

Advocate Photo by BRAD KEMP St. Thomas More hitter Brennan Breaux celebrates at third after hitting a triple against Teurlings Catholic in their April 1 game at STM.

In recent years, the St. Thomas More baseball program has formed a pipeline to Baton Rouge.

Former LSU center fielder Mikie Mahtook, and current LSU center fielder Andrew Stevenson, played for Cougars coach Gary Perkins.

In seniors Brennan Breaux and O’Neal Lochridge, the Tigers hope they have found their next two stars.

Perkins said both exhibit a strong work ethic, which has allowed them to consistently get better throughout their high school careers.

Breaux specifically put in work this offseason to add muscle and improve his offensive game.

“He’s done of a good job in the offseason of getting stronger,” Perkins said of Breaux. “He’s always been a good contact hitter, but this year he has a little more pop in his bat.

“His work ethic is just unbelievable.”

Perkins said if Breaux continues to develop and improve his game at its’ current rate, the prospect has a chance to be next in line of the Cougars baseball standouts.

“He’s come a million miles since his sophomore year, if he grows as much next year as he’s grown from last year to this year, he’s really going to be a tremendous college prospect.”

Breaux follows Mahtook and Stevenson in the traditional sense in that he plays center field.

Perkins said while the three are different players, one trait is a constant in all of them.

“They are just willing to work as hard as possible to be as good as they can possibly be,” Perkins said. “(Breaux) has had a positive attitude this season and in turn that has helped the team.”

The 6-foot Breaux also pitches, but the field is where he is projected to land at the next level. As a junior, Breaux hit .379 with 15 RBIs for a state-championship squad.

And while hurt for the start of this season, Breaux’s offensive game has come on strong in recent weeks, highlighted by a 4-for-5 performance including four RBIs, one home run and one double against St. Martinville on April 11.

“Lately (Breaux) has really been on fire,” Perkins said. “He started the season a little slow, but he’s playing a good outfield, toeing the mound well and swinging a good bat.”

Lochridge has played similarly well for a streaking Cougars squad, undefeated in District 5-4A through nine games, keeping the team’s offense afloat while several Cougars sat out with injuries.

Perkins said Lochridge’s raw power is the best on the team, with his ability to hit the ball out of the park a constant threat.

“If you’re talking about players hitting the ball out of the park for us, the conversation starts with him,” Perkins said. “He’s a gifted athlete.”

Perkins said Lochridge’s game has room for improvement as with any high school player, but the future Tiger has a similar trait as his current and future teammate.

“There’s a lot of growth still there, but he just wants to get better,” Perkins said. “He works at it as hard as anyone else.”

Perkins said Lochridge’s natural talent combined with his work ethic makes him appreciate the team he has this season.

“We’ve got some seniors with a lot of talent, and now with everyone healthy we are putting it together,” Perkins said. “I’m just glad (Lochridge) is a Cougar.”