LAFAYETTE — Four St. Thomas More athletes officially signed to play in college in front of friends and family in the Cougars’ gymnasium Wednesday.
Pitcher Hogan Harris signed to play with the hometown Louisiana-Lafayette, pitcher/outfielder Brennan Breaux and infielder O’Neal Lochridge signed with LSU and volleyball defensive specialist Caroline Adams signed to play with Ole Miss.
The common theme among the four? Wednesday was a dream come true.
“I was trying not to cry the whole time, I was so excited,” Adams said. “It was awesome.”
Each athlete was introduced individually at a table near the center of the gym before signing their respective letters of intent to cheers from those in attendance.
Harris, a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher, made the decision to stay in his hometown despite the fact that he “could’ve gone anywhere,” coach Gary Perkins said.
“He’s got the ability to play at the next level and even the level beyond that,” Perkins said. “Whether he does that is all about how much work he does and staying healthy. If he does that, he’ll have a great future.”
The decision was easier because of family connections. Harris’ parents attended UL-Lafayette, and his mother played softball with the Cajuns.
“I’ve grown up watching the games and being a fan,” Harris said. “It’s the path I wanted to take.”
Harris didn’t play much in his junior season because of an elbow injury, but he dominated when he was in the game. He pitched in six games, winning three, and he struck out 31 in just 16.2 innings.
“We didn’t want to take chances because of his future,” Perkins said. “We probably could’ve brought him back earlier, but he had missed so much having treatment. But when we got to the state semifinals, we gave him the ball and he had a great showing.”
Lochridge and Breaux were sporting LSU shirts and hats when they signed their letters of intent. Like Harris, their signatures were a realization of their childhood dreams.
“As I little kid, I grew up around it — always going to the games, always hearing about it,” Lochridge said. “It’s such a hometown school, it’s somewhere that I wouldn’t want to pass up.”
Said Breaux: “As a kid, you watch it on TV — whether it’s football or baseball. I’ve always dreamed of wearing purple and gold, and now I can finally make the dream come true.”
Lochridge hit seven homers as a junior and expects to play infield at LSU. Breaux played pitcher and center field for the Cougars, and he’s been told he’ll get a chance to do both, but Perkins said the Tigers like his arm from the left side.
“I think LSU will give him an opportunity to try both, but it wouldn’t shock me if they had him pick one or the other,” Perkins said. “I just know that they do like his arm.”
More importantly, Perkins said, all three would go on to represent STM well in the college ranks.
“I’m sure (LSU coach Paul) Mainieri and (Cajuns coach Troy) Robichaux are tickled to have all three guys in the program,” Perkins said.
Adams was the lone athlete of the four to leave the state’s borders, but she’s always wanted to play for Ole Miss, where her parents went to school.
“I’ve heard about Ole Miss since a very young age, and ever since my freshman year it’s been a goal of mine to play volleyball for Ole Miss,” Adams said.