Though they’re bound for different colleges, the St. Michael the Archangel duo of Austin Edens and J.T. Mauldin share a bond few teammates experience.
Edens, a first baseman, and fellow “bash brother” Mauldin, a right fielder, grew up together in baseball and otherwise. That makes the Warriors’ berth in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Baseball tournament this weekend even more special.
“We both went to Most Blessed Sacrament and came from there to St. Michael together,” Edens said of the duo’s south Baton Rouge upbringing. “We played on the same T-Ball team, the same Coaches Pitch team and all the same travel teams growing up.
“Since we’ve been in high school, we’ve played on the same summer teams for Marucci. It’s always worked out that way.”
St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard praised both four-year starters. Fifth-seeded St. Michael (24-9) plays No. 1 St. Thomas More (29-5) in a Class 4A semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday to help open the LHSAA’s three-day tourney at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
“They’ve been a big part of our program for four years, and they’re getting the chance to go on and play in college, which is something they’ve both worked hard for,” Bernhard said.
Edens and Mauldin started as freshmen on SMHS’ team that finished as the 4A runner-up to St. Louis Catholic. Their roles have evolved over four seasons, but for the past two seasons they have hit third and fourth in the Warriors’ lineup.
Edens, a Samford signee is hitting .467 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs and bats third. Mauldin, who is bound for LSU-Eunice, is hitting .391 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs.
“J.T. has always been able to hit, and he can consistently hit for power,” Edens said. The thing about us hitting back-to-back is that it makes it tougher for other teams to pitch around us. When the other guys get on in front of us, that gives us an even better chance to see good pitches.”
Mauldin dishes out similar praise for Edens.
“No doubt the guy can hit,” Mauldin said of Edens. “And have you ever seen him play first base? I think he’s one of the best first basemen in the state.
“It’s hard to get a ball past him.”
Mauldin said he and Edens also push each other with some healthy competition, keeping track of who has the most hits, RBIs, etc. Such competitions will likely continue via long distance next year. Maudlin said he can wait to ponder those times.
“To be honest with you, we’ve been so focused on the playoffs and getting to the state tournament that I haven’t thought about next year that much,” Mauldin said.
“We’re focused on the tournament now. We’ll have time to think about that stuff later.”