A Coach of the Year honor can mark the pinnacle of a career for some coaches.
Catholic High’s Brad Bass and Dutchtown’s Nancy Ensminger were both eager to share the spotlight. The two District 5-5A coaches swept Coach of the Year honors on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A All-State teams for baseball and softball.
“It’s like they say, ‘If you want to be a good coach you’d better have some good players and assistant coaches,’ ” Bass said.
“We had both. We knew we had a good nucleus of players from the 2013 team that won it (5A title) and the team from last year that had a bitter taste from not making the tournament last year. They were determined and took us on quite a ride.”
Bass was voted the LSWA’s Coach of the Year for baseball after the Bears finished as the 5A runner-up to Barbe and set a school record with 37 wins.
Ensminger was picked as the softball Coach of the Year after the Griffins (26-9) were the 5A runner-up to Sam Houston. It was the first title-game appearance for the DHS softball team.
“We knew the potential was definitely there,” Ensminger said. “We finished third in district, but all our losses were by one run. We told (the Dutchtown players) that all we had to do was put together five wins in a row.
“I’m proud of this group. This (award) isn’t about me. It’s about the players and our staff. As coaches we work well together as a unit. As coaches we work different areas and work together. So we all share this.”
Two players from southwest Louisiana claimed the other top LSWA honors voted on by a panel of sportswriters from across the state.
Pitcher Kale Breaux of Sulphur was voted the Outstanding Player award for baseball. Breaux (12-1, 0.20 ERA) helped the Tors reach the semifinals. At the plate, he hit .387 with three homers and 24 RBIs.
Tanner Wright, who pitched Sam Houston to the 5A title, was voted the Outstanding Player for softball.
Wright (25-2, 0.75 ERA) struck out 190 batters in 179 innings and hit .375 with 17 RBIs to lead the Broncos to their fourth state championship in the past five years.
This is no shortage of local representation on the 5A teams.
Catholic’s Ross Massey (11-0, 1.19 ERA) and Bailey Holstein of Denham Springs (9-1, 1.41) made the baseball pitching staff. St. Amant’s Gabrielle Sharp (24-1, 1.75) and Dutchtown’s Ali McCoy (26-9, 1.77) made the softball squad as pitchers.
Catholic’s Josh Smith (.448 with 14 doubles, three home runs, 38 RBIs) and Live Oak’s Lenni Kunert (.485, 10 doubles, two home runs, 24 RBIs, 35 runs scored) made the baseball squad as infielders. Denham Springs’ Travis Swaggerty (.451, nine doubles, four triples, 27 RBIs) and Evan Pace of Zachary (.485, six home runs, 40 RBIs) made the squad as utility players.
Denham Springs catcher Jaden Accardo (.380, 35 RBIs) made the softball squad along with infielders St. Amant’s Kourtney Gremillion (.540, nine home runs, 39 RBIs) and Kara Gremillion (.584, 36 RBIs, 53 runs scored) and Live Oak’s Gisselle Ash (.549, 47 RBIs).
Brittany Case of Denham Springs (.588, 21 RBIs) made it as an outfielder, while East Ascension’s Claire Weinberger (.582, 28 RBIs) and Jessie Watts (23-8, .483, 41 RBIs) made it as utility players.