Sulphur, La. — The 8th time’s the charm for the St. Charles Catholic baseball team, who had been to the finals 7 times before but never won a state title.
“They were in the finals as freshman in ’16,” said St. Charles Catholic Head Baseball Coach Wayne Stein. “We made it to the semifinals in ’17 and lost to the eventual champion in 2018. I know they knew that the opportunity was there.”
On Tuesday, they defeated top-seeded University Lab 7-4 to win the Division II state championship to claim their first title in school history.
“It was a big weight lifted off our backs,” Stein said. “I think our kids, even though they weren’t a part of everything that happened before, they felt the pressure and a lot of them felt the pressure I think from me, which was unfortunate because I just wanted them to do it for themselves.”
The difference this year, was the leadership from their 11 seniors, but also a change Stein made in his approach to coaching the team.
“It kind of clicked to me,” Stein said. “One of my players in a meeting one time that I had with him said, ‘I think you need to be harder on me.’ He was telling me I think you need to push us a little extra and I took that advice to heart. It took me two months later to realize what he was trying to tell me and I did. I started to push more and I just demanded a higher standard that I thought that they wanted.”
In the Division I title game, St. Paul’s School took home their second state title, by defeating Rummel 7 to 1. It was their second-straight trip to the finals– a trend they hope to continue.
“It’s a high point,” said St. Paul’s School Head Baseball Coach Mick Nunez. “Hopefully the younger guys can build off of it and we can keep making a run for the finals. It’s hard to hold on, especially when you lose that many but we’ve got some talented young kids. Hopefully we’ll keep some pressure on people.”
This was the Wolves first state baseball championship since 1999 and was the first for Nunez as a head coach.
“I didn’t know how it would be,” Nunez said. “You know you dream about it, you think about it. It’s like it’s settling-in more and more as time goes on. Right when it happened I think I was more relieved that it was just over and now as the day goes by, I’m like, we finally did it.”