Brusly High outfielder Kwanston Adkins was moved to tears when his mother walked up and handed him his cap and gown during the school’s graduation practice Wednesday.

Instead of going through a routine practice, the school’s six senior baseball players and one senior manager were awarded their diplomas during the practice.

“I won’t lie, I had a tear or two come to my eyes,” Adkins said. “I guess the thing that surprises me the most is that they were able to keep it a secret. It was really special. It’s something we’ll never forget.”

The impromptu graduation was born out of necessity. The sixth-seeded Panthers (25-8) play No 2 Evangel Christian (23-8) at 6 p.m. Friday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Baseball tournament at Sulphur’s McMurry Park — the same time as the school’s commencement.

BHS baseball coach Tait Dupont and assistant principal Julie Mayeux worked together to put the graduation surprise together for senior players Adkins, Luke Leblanc, Beau Whitty, Landon Andre, Brennan Allen and Blake Manola, along with manager Morgan Leblanc.

“Julie (Mayeux) did a great job of organizing it,” Dupont said. “We told them (seven seniors) to get at the back of the line for practice, since they weren’t going to be there on Friday.

“Everybody else practiced walking across to get their diploma. When it came time for them walk up, we said ‘OK, you’re graduating today.’ Their parents, grandparents and other friends were waiting in one of the buildings nearby. They came out and brought the caps and gowns.

“You could tell by the look on their faces they were surprised and touched. I even started to tear up.”

Adkins said his mother told him she’d known for days about the graduation plan. The only possible tipoff he had that morning when she asked him to bring her his cap and gown that morning. She said she was taking it to get it embroidered with his accomplishments to make it a keepsake.

Instead, Adkins, a Northwestern State baseball signee, and other seniors got the memory of a lifetime.

“It was special because not only was our family and friends there, but all the other seniors were there with us too,” Adkins said. “Knowing that the school and community cared enough about us to do this can’t help but inspire the team.

“Last year we lost in the semifinals and fell short of the goal. Now, after this, we really want to win it all for the community. They deserve it.”