Josh Laborde has had a pretty good summer. Unlike many teachers, who take time off to recharge their batteries from the rigors of the classroom, Laborde organizes and coaches tournament baseball teams during the summer.
Laborde has been coaching the LB Warriors since 2006. After beginning as one team, the LB Warriors are actually three tournament teams, with one that plays in 19 and under, another that plays at 17 and under and a third that competes at 15 and under.
The teams, which are composed of players from West Feliciana, East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes, have had a remarkable summer. Two of the teams finished as national runners-up, while another lost in the semifinals.
“We were undermanned, and this was really something for kids that never played at this level,” Laborde said. “We expanded to three teams to give these kids the opportunity to play at a high level. They were right there with a chance to win a national championship.”
The teams play in showcase tournaments, which means they are trying to be seen by college coaches who are eager to sign the most experienced and talented players to scholarships. Laborde said he has coached more than 80 kids who have gone on to play college baseball.
“It gives these guys a goal to shoot for,” Laborde said. “This group has gotten some interest.”
The 19-and-under team finished third at the AAU Nationals in Sarasota, Florida, and lost in the semifinals. Players from West Feliciana on that squad are center fielder Tre Bailey and first baseman Logan Pohlmann.
The 17-and-under team, coached by Stephen Sparks, finished as the national runner-up with a 7-2 overall record. The 17-and-under squad beat Demarini/Next Level of Indiana, the top-rated team in the semifinals, 7-3. West Feliciana players on the team were pitchers Terry Ferguson and Pared Sturgeon, outfielder Gage Tyres, catcher Will Cupit and pitcher/outfielder Taylor Sullivan.
The 15-and-under team also finished as a national runner-up, losing in the championship game 6-5. West Feliciana players were second baseman T.J. Curtis, catcher Hayden Charlet, center fielder Hunter Gonzales and outfielder Chandler Sullivan, along with shortstop Demarco Goss, of East Feliciana.
Laborde, who last year taught at Port Allen, has moved over to West Feliciana Middle School, where he will be either a physical education or special education teacher. He also will serve as an assistant baseball coach and as a football assistant.
“We’re a very localized team,” said Laborde, who lives in Erwinville with his wife, Jessica, and 4-year-old son, Drew.
“We take our kids to compete at the national level, and it will transfer over to the high school season.”
Laborde, who was the baseball coach the last four years at Port Allen High School, is encouraged for the future and said this summer’s experience will build momentum for next year’s high school players.
“When we go into spring, they will have this experience and will be accustomed to playing at a high level,” Laborde said.
“I never thought it would get this big,” Laborde said. “I have great guys helping me coach — Josh Foil, Troy Laborde, Brandon Weller and Ray Derbes. We want the kids to be proud. They’re upset they came up short, but they need to be proud of what they accomplished.”
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