Take a new coach, two hometown sites and a smaller tournament format. Put it all together and you get the 2022 Louisiana American Legion State tournament for host Gauthier Amedee.
“We have a new Legion director this year and seven teams,” first-year Gauthier Amedee coach Kade Keowen said. “No teams were seeded, but Gibbs (Construction, New Orleans area) got the bye. You’ve got the defending Retif, three teams from the Acadiana area, Benton and us.
“There are a lot of unknowns. Last year I think there were 10 teams. We’ve played Lafayette and Crowley, but none of the others this summer.”
The four-day, double elimination tournament begins with three games on Friday at East Ascension. It is the first time EAHS has hosted the tourney since 2008. GA faces the Lafayette Drillers at 7 p.m. Friday.
Fields at East Ascension and Dutchtown will be utilized. The winner advances to the MidSouth Regional tourney in Pelham, Ala.
Keowen, the EAHS’ head coach, inherited a team with notable returning players and key newcomers. He said the players voted to rebrand the team as the Sharks, instead of the Wombats prior to the season.
Gauthier (17-6-1) relies heavily on players from 5A runner-up St. Amant and semifinalist Dutchtown. Three 2021 graduates — former St. Amant player Slade Zepphuar and ex-Ascension Catholic player Jacob Dunn, both of BRCC, and former EAHS outfielder Kael Babin of Hutchinson Community College — also play key roles.
UL signee Lee Amedee, an all-state second baseman from St. Amant, joined the team this year. Amedee is batting .424 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. Babin is at .390, followed by East Ascension’s Dominick Regira at .340. Regira is headed to SLU.
Zepphuar, Dutchtown’s Nick Gisclair (LSUE) and St. Amant’s Jacob Mayers (Nicholls) help lead the Sharks’ pitching staff. St. Amant’s Brayden Billingsley (LSU Shreveport) is set to get the Friday start.
“I coached against most of these kids the last two or three years. I’ve gotten to know them as individuals,” Keowen said. “Most of them played together in travel ball when they were younger. Watching them come back together a 18 and 19-year-olds has been special.”
2022 American Legion State tournament
At East Ascension/Dutchtown
At East Ascension
Game 1: Crowley Drillers vs. Retif Oil, 1 p.m
Game 2: St. Landry Indians vs. Benton Tigers, 4 p.m.
Game 3: Lafayette Drillers vs. Gauthier Amedee, 7 p.m.
Game 4 : Gibbs Construction vs. Retif/Crowley winner, 10 a.m.
Game 6: St. Landry-Benton loser vs. Lafayette Gauthier loser, 30 minutes after Gibbs-Retif game
At East Ascension
Game 5: St. Landry-Benton winner vs. Lafayette-Gauthier winner, 10 a.m.
Note: Each site will host another consolation game Saturday afternoon/evening