How Louisiana Tech baseball signee Haydan Toal is leading young Tioga team

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

Injuries have plagued Tioga’s baseball team all season, but it still has an ace up its sleeve it can rely on.

Louisiana Tech signee Haydan Toal continues to be one of the bright spots for Tioga (11-11), which is vying for its third straight LHSAA state tournament and title game appearance.

“We lost a lot of seniors last year, so we’re young,” Toal said. “But I have to be a leader and set an example for everybody.”

Toal was in midseason form Tuesday. He struck out 11 batters, did not allow an earned run and surrendered just four hits as Tioga earned a 7-2 win over Alexandria Senior High.

TiogaÕs Haydan Toal (9) pitches against ASH in a game held Tuesday at Ward 10 Recreation Complex. Tioga won 7-2.

For the season, Toal is 6-2 with a 1.79 ERA and 79 strikeouts, while only walking eight batters and allowing 22 hits.

“That’s what we expect out of Haydan,” Tioga coach David Montiel said. “He’s been doing it all year long. He goes out there and gives us an opportunity to win. We just have to make plays behind him so we can keep his pitch count low.”

Over the years, Tioga has had its share of pitchers that have gone on to play college baseball: Connor Miller (UL-Monroe), Dylan Coburn (UL Lafayette, Louisiana Christian), Blake McGehee (Ole Miss) and David Roper (LCU). Montiel believes Toal is just as good as those guys.

During his Tioga career, Toal has a 22-6 record and has recorded a 1.41 ERA and 236 strikeouts.

“He ranks right there at the top with them,” Montiel said. “He stepped in as a freshman and he just continues to win. He’s been a competitor his entire career here at Tioga.”

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Toal credits McGehee and Roper especially for helping him get acclimated into high school baseball, which led to the pitching trio winning a state title in 2019 and returning to the championship game in 2021. There wasn't a 2020 tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Toal is the veteran for a young rotation that is trying to gain experience.

Tioga's Haydan Toal pitches against North Vermillon during the LHSAA Baseball State Tournament Championship at McMurray Park in Sulphur, Louisiana on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche)

“He knew going into it that he would have to step up and be in that role,” Montiel said. “We graduated all those guys and the season has been compounded with a lot of injuries, so he’s had to take an even bigger role for us.

"He’s having to put a lot of stuff on his shoulders, but he goes out there and does it day in and day out. That’s all we can ask for him.”

Tioga will have some work to do if it wants to get a top-four seed for the playoffs as it sits at No. 8 in the Class 4A power rankings, but Toal hopes a strong finish will be the spark for another playoff run.

Excluding 2020’s postseason cancellation, Tioga has made it to the quarterfinals in five of the past six years and has earned no lower than a No. 3 seed.

“I hope we can make a far run in the playoffs, get to the state championship and win,” Toal said.