Ask two people to define a baseball “all-star experience,” and you will likely get two distinctive answers.
Tait Dupont and Gannon Achord provide a case in point going into the LHSCA All-Star baseball games that begin Friday at North Park in Denham Springs.
Dupont, the longtime Brusly coach, will serve as an assistant coach for the West team. Achord just completed his second year as head coach at West Feliciana and will be an assistant coach for the East team. Game 1 is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, with Game 2 to follow at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m really looking forward to this,” Dupont said. “Just the chance to be around the best players in the state for two days is awesome. Some of these guys I’ve heard about, but I’ve never seen them. I would imagine this is a lot like coaching a college team.”
Players report Friday morning for a pregame practice and then have a banquet-style meal before taking the field for Game 1. West Ouachita’s Mitch Thomas is the head coach for the East team, while South Beauregard’s Jeremy Deville is the West head coach.
At 26, Achord is one of the younger coaches to serve as an LHSCA all-star assistant. He led WFHS to the Class 3A state title a year ago. Achord knows plenty about high school all-star games because he watched his father, former Central Private and Catholic High coach Kyle Achord, coach in LHSCA and MAIS all-star games.
“I grew up going to games like this, and it’s an great experience just to watch guys with that much talent play together on one field,” Achord said. “I’m not sure how much actual coaching there will be. I look forward to just seeing these guys play and perform on a big stage.”
There is a personal takeaway for each coach. Brusly catcher Connor Manola is part of the West team. The East squad includes several players who were part of a youth program Achord coached. The group includes Central pitcher Makhail Hilliard, Live Oak catcher Preston Faulkner and Denham Springs’ pitchers Brock Batty and Taylor Higgins.
Hilliard and the West’s Teurlings Catholic’s Nick Webre are LSU signees to note on the rosters. The East roster also includes Catholic High’s Cole Johnson and Will Ethridge, St. John’s Dylan Hurst and the St. Michael duo of Dwain Varisco Jr. and Ross Scelfo.