What's next for Teurlings' shortstop Hayden Cantrelle

Trey Labat
Teurlings Catholic's Hayden Cantrelle fields a ball in the April 12, 2017 regular season game against St. Thomas More in Lafayette.

It has been an eventful three years for Teurlings shortstop Hayden Cantrelle.

As a sophomore, Cantrelle was the scrappy newcomer who wowed fans, coaches and opposing players on the mound in the state championship game against rival St. Thomas More.

Then as a junior, Cantrelle was a cog in the Rebels’ state championship machine. A vital one, but it was a team that featured a strong, vocal senior class filled with players who would continue their career at the next level.

His senior season went a little differently, though, especially early on.

During the state championship year, the Rebels didn’t lose their fourth game of the season until April 20, 2016. This season, the Rebels lost four games in the first week of the season.

“As a team and as seniors we experienced some growing pains,” Cantrelle said. “We only brought two full-time starters back. With that youth, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s definitely been a growing process.”

Cantrelle’s role as a leader, as well as fellow seniors Nick Webre and Kade Sonnier, had to change if the Rebels wanted to find success.

They had to learn they didn’t have to be perfect.

Teurlings’ coach Mike Thibodeaux said Cantrelle and Webre were pressing too much at the plate at times and not handling failure well.

“The clock kind of starts to tick down in your head,” Cantrelle said. “We would think, ‘We have to get it down here.’ And we would start to feel the pressure.

“It was an ignorant standpoint from both of us. Those younger guys were pulling the load for us early on because we were pressing too much. A lot of those early losses were on us and not them.”

As things started to slowly click into place for Cantrelle — the new role, the leadership, the pressure to perform — the Rebels started to slowly come together.

Thibodeaux said it has been a different kind of challenge coaching this year’s iteration of the Teurlings Rebels, but ultimately he thinks the team will be stronger because of the adversity they faced early in the season while playing a brutal schedule.

Teurlings Catholic's Hayden Cantrelle in the April 12, 2017 regular season game against St. Thomas More in Lafayette.

Class 5A powers Sulphur (three times), Catholic of Baton Rouge (twice), Sam Houston, and even Acadiana was on the schedule before weather intervened.

“The schedule was very challenging by design,” Thibodeaux said. “This is a completely different team with a whole different approach to practice. They aren’t going to respond to the same type of coaching as last year’s group would have. It took a while to push the right buttons.

“But right now we feel like we’re playing our best baseball of the season with even better baseball ahead of us.”

Vocally is where Cantrelle has made his greatest leap in terms of leadership.

He’s always been known as a relentless worker and grinder on the field, but the Rebels needed his voice to fill the void of a departed senior class on the diamond.

“It was a different kind of challenge for him, but it was one that he ultimately proved capable of handling,” Thibodeaux said. “The thing that has been fun to watch, or I guess listen to, has been his voice on the field. He’s hooked up for every pitch. He’s vocal in the dugout, he’s vocal behind the pitcher, he’s vocal with the infielders and he’s bringing back information as the leadoff batter.

“He’s everything you want in a shortstop. Just the way he attacks the game and brings everything to the table. His effort is always perfect.”

It wasn’t just the pressure of leadership in his senior season, either.

The longtime Ragin' Cajuns commit and now signee has attracted the heavy attention of several scouts from Major League Baseball this season.

Teurlings Catholic's Hayden Cantrelle talks with teammates during an April 12 game against St. Thomas More in Lafayette. Cantrelle was named Class 4A All-State Outstanding Player for baseball.

“It’s a little bit different, there is a little more to do during the week. You have a few more phone calls,” Cantrelle said. “You have to tell people when you’re playing or not. I don’t think it has affected me from a playing standpoint because you don’t really see them when they’re there.”

But they have been there. And they’ve been excited about what they’ve seen.

Cantrelle didn’t have many details, he figured after the season and in the leadup to the draft in June things would become more clear, but said if the opportunity arose — going to college or signing a professional contract — it would prove to be a difficult decision.

“He’s done nothing but improve his stock,” Thibodeaux said. “The kid deserves it. I’m so happy for him. He’s going to have a great decision to make over the summer, but he deserves everything that’s coming to him. He’s worked for it.”

For now, though, Cantrelle is focused on finishing out the season and trying to bring home a state championship trophy for the second year in a row.

It would prove to be the storybook ending to a high school career that appears to be just the beginning of a long journey.

“Since my sophomore year, leaving with a bad taste in my mouth, to my junior year where we had every reason to give it away,” Cantrelle said. “We’re the underdogs again, which is what Teurlings is all about. It gives us an edge.

“The go out with a bang would be everything I could have asked for — the cherry on top.”