After years of coaching summer softball teams, Billy Stears took over as head softball coach at St. Joseph’s Academy three years ago with some specific ideas in mind.
Along with preaching fundamentals, Stears stressed the importance of believing all things are possible.
This spring the Redstickers advanced to the Class 5A semifinals for the first time in school history before losing to eventual state champion Sam Houston.
Though his team fell just short of the ultimate prize, Stears has received a prize of his own, being voted Coach of the Year on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A All-State softball team.
“I am not in this for awards, and I love working with the kids but this selection leaves me speechless,” Stears said. “All year long we stress to the kids to believe in themselves, coupled with hard work and good things can happen. We did a lot of things that were unexpected by a lot of folks. This is certainly a memory for all of us.”
Stears’ SJA team finished with a 26-6 record and shared the District 5-5A title with St. Amant High.
Sam Houston softball pitcher Baylee Corbello and Barbe-Lake Charles baseball shortstop Gavin Cecchini collected the Outstanding Player awards on the LSWA baseball and
softball teams selected by a statewide panel of sportswriters. Cecchini’s father, Barbe coach Glenn Cecchini, was selected as the baseball Coach of the Year.
Corbello, a junior, led Sam Houston to a 4A title last season and 5A state title this spring. She led the team with a 28-6 record.
Corbello had an 0.86 earned run average and hit .496 with 39 RBIs.
Cecchini hit .413 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases to lead Barbe to its first state championship since 2008.
Glenn Cecchini coached the Bucs to a 33-6 record and their sixth state championship.
Eight local softball players and four local baseball players were selected to the LSWA’s 5A squads.
Semifinalists St. Amant and SJA each placed two players on the softball squad. Pitcher Caroline Sagrera (26-6, 419 strikeouts, 13-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and utility player Morgan Miller (.406, 18 RBIs) were St. Joseph’s players picked.
Infielder Whitney Troxclair (.440, five home runs, 32 RBIs) and utility pick Kasey Nielson (23-2, 1.41 ERA, hit .289)
were the St. Amant players chosen.
Zachary High catcher Katie Browne (.534, 13 home runs, 22 RBIs), East Ascension outfielder Bailey Landry (.489, 27 RBIs, 31 stolen bases), outfielder Natalie Landry of Denham Springs (.415, 27 RBIs) and Live Oak’s Brooke Gonzales (17-6, 1.51 ERA, hit .278) also made the softball squad.
Quarterfinalist Dutchtown High claimed two spots on the baseball squad. Pitcher Jacob Waguespack (8-2, 0.37 ERA) and utility choice Troy Lewis (.373, 30 RBIs; also 3-1, 1.56 ERA) are the Griffins on the squad.
Kyle Cedotal of Denham Springs (10-3, 1.13 ERA, hit .427, 22 RBIs) and Zachary’s Jameson Fisher (.554, 14 doubles, 38 RBIs) made the team as utility selections.
Hannah Haydel (31-3) of state runner-up Hahnville, Sara Corbello (31-4) of BarbeCourtney Dutreix (.430) of Hahnville, Summer Melancon (.444) of Hahnville, Lauren Lambert (.441) of West Monroe, Sam Houston’s Brooke Rozas (.398), Barbe’s Taylor Goree (.543), and Haughton’s Shyanne McDowell (.400) complete the softball squad.
Two other Barbe players: Bryce Kingsley (10-1) and infielder Kennon Fontenot (.413) also made the baseball team. The rest of the squad included Jesuit’s Emerson Gibbs (10-1), Rummel’s Mitchell Sewald (5-1), Hahnville’s Cody Farrell (.429), Brother Martin’s Gregory Deichmann (.411), Acadiana’s Stryker Trahan (.384) Captain Shreve’s Peyton Attaway (.447), Grace King’s Trent Giambrone (.565), Byrd’s Richard Carthon (.420), Terrebonne’s Justin Williams (.519), and Sam Houston’s Kameron Esthay (8-0).