District diamond title hallmark of 2009 Eagle baseball club

THIRD YEAR STARTING…St. John High seniors Andre Landry, left, and Shelby Hemenway, right, completed their third year of starting on the Eagle baseball diamond last week

St. John High’s 2009 baseball team completed its season last week with a 7-1 state 2-A regional playoff loss to visiting Kinder High, but Coach Heath Whittington pointed to a district championship, a 17-11 overall record, and a state playoff first-round victory as hallmarks for his Eagle club.

“They should be proud of their achievements, especially a second-straight district championship,” noted the second-year Eagle mentor.

The Eagles did have a fine season. They swept their 7-2A foes without a loss to win the league crown, they crushed their first-round opponent Jonesboro-Hodge 14-3, they played Class 2-A top-seeded Evangel Christian to the wire in a special Baton Rouge 2-A “Best” tournament (where they also lost to Kinder 7-6), and they had all but one season-ending starter hit over .300 for the season. The fact they won 17 games and finished with a winning overall record, despite having underclassmen (two were sophomores) on the pitcher’s mound most of the season, was also a heck of an accomplishment and a hint of things to come next spring.

Despite their outstanding hitting accomplishments during the span of the season it was lack of clutch batting in the regional loss and some infield errors that hurt their chances last week against visiting Kinder High.

The visitors collected only four hits against the Eagle pitching trio of Jude Doughty, Shea Ourso, and Kade Yabrough, but they made their hits count. SJHS collected seven hits, but the only one that counted was a final inning RBI safety by catcher Cole Verret.

Coach Whittington said to credit the work of the KHS pitching duo, who kept the usual Eagle speed off the base paths. The Eagles still managed four steals.

Senior third baseman Andre Landry paced the Eagles with a double and a single, while Landon (Landry) Orcino had two hits and walked once. Joining Verret with base hits were Ourso and Chad Morales.

Kinder played flawless in the field, while SJHS had a trio of infield errors.

All of that aside, the Eagles were the best baseball club in the parish yet again with Class A White Castle High next in line with a solid 12-7 record and runner-up honors in the 9-A district.

The production of the batting lineup was impressive with a trio of .400 hitters in the regular lineup. Two other starters hit over .350, while three more hit over .300.

Senior outfielder Shelby Hemenway, who was eventually moved to the leadoff position in the batting order, tied for batting honors with sophomore DH-pitcher-infielder Shea Ourso. Both hit .441. Joining the duo with a .410 average was junior center fielder Corey David. Infielder Landon (Landry) Orcino just missed .400 as he clubbed out a .386 average. Senior first baseman Justin Hudson hit .355, followed by catcher Cole Verret (.306), outfielder Chad Morales (.304), and third sacker Andre Landry (.303). Shortstop Jarod Purpera rounded out the regular starters with a .268 average.

Hudson tied with Hemenway in extra base hits as both finished with 10. Hudson led in home runs (4) and RBI (32). Hemenway went on to lead in slugging percentage (.676), doubles (7), and stolen bases (23). He was second in home runs with 3 and was in the mix with 21 RBI.

Ourso came on late in the year with his hit batting average, bases on balls (17), and a team-leading on base percentage of .570. Verret ended up second in RBI with 25 and led the club in sacrifices with 13, while David was second in stolen bases with 16. David was second to Hemenway and Hudson in extra base hits with 8 (including 6 doubles). Landon Orcino was steady in several departments with 21 RBI, seven extra base hits (6 doubles), and 12 stolen bases.

Despite missing a couple of games with a leg injury, Andre Landry had six extra base hits, 20 RBI. Purpera also produced with six extra base hits and 16 RBI, while Morales finished with 20 RBI.

Yarbrough led the staff with eight mound victories, while Ourso led in games saved.