One word to describe Neville baseball’s summer is exposure.
From Monroe Baseball to Louisiana Knights to several other teams, the Tigers take taken a divide and conquer approach this summer. Many local teams traditionally play at least a month together before electing to split up for travel ball, but Neville head coach Paul Guerriero likes his players to venture out from the jump for numerous reasons.
“Some of the tournaments these kids get to play in, you have college coaches watching,” Guerriero said. “Another reason we like it is we’re not overusing the same arms. These leagues have pitch count rules, so they can’t ride one arm into the ground, and if our kids are on different teams, we’re not having to overuse any arms.”
Because of the Sterlington Sports Complex, Guerriero is able to watch multiple players take the field throughout the summer. For those that play in tournaments down south and all over, Guerriero has them send videos of their at bats.
“Zeb (Ruddell) and Henton (Roberts) send me all of their at bats,” Guerriero said. “I’ve been able to watch guys like Parker Fugler, Eli McPherson and Andrew Robertson so far.”
Guerriero has fielded many calls this summer about both Ruddell and Roberts. The rising sophomores, along with several other young talent returning, give the Tigers a strong foundation to build on next year. Ruddell wowed many throughout last season with his strong arm in the outfield, along with his ability at the plate. Roberts played freshman only last season but is expected to be a major producer as the Tigers catcher next spring.
Ruddell was an All-District outfielder last fall. Meanwhile, fellow First-Team All-District 2-4A performers Todd Stewart, Andrew Cagle and Fugler return. Fugler, who was named the outstanding player in the district, led the team with a .412 batting average, while Stewart hit for .352. Stewart, Cagle and Fugler will be seniors next season.
“We’ve got a good young group,” Guerriero said. “We had some freshmen that played varsity last year and four or five that dressed. The best thing is this group has a lot of kids that want to play baseball at the next level. And that gives them more reason to work hard. If this good group can come together, it should be an exciting two to three years.”