Monterey baseball coach Eric Richard was named Class B Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Assocation, while Monterey pitcher Ethan Clark was named to the first team.
Richard took No. 20 Monterey to the Class B semifinals. The Wolves surrendered an unearned run in falling to eventual champion Choudrant, 1-0.
Richard said the award is for Monterey High and the entire community.
“When we go to a restaurant in our baseball uniforms people ask where we are from,” Richard said. “We say Monterey, and they say, ‘Where’s that?’ So any recognition we get is good for everybody. It’s a sense of pride.”
Clark was 7-4 this past season, posting a 1.50 earned run average, striking out 108 and walking 29.
“That’s a great honor and capped off a great season,” Clark said.
The 6-foot-5 soft-spoken Clark pitched all four of Monterey’s playoff baseball games, posting wins over No. 13 Mt. Hermon, No. 4 Zwolle, No. 12 Pitkin before falling to eventual state champion and No. 1 Choudrant 1-0 in the state semifinals. He did not allow an earned run in the playoffs.
“Those four games will be remembered around here for a long time,” Richard said.
Clark held Mt. Hermon to three hits, striking out 10.
Against Zwolle, Clark allowed five hits, striking out five and walking three.
Zwolle collected 12 hits against Clark, but stranded 13 runners.
“Zwolle was very, very good and probably swung the bat better than anybody we played,” Richard said. “We were able to jump ahead of them and hold them off. Ethan would come up the with big pitch or there would be a big defensive play behind him.
In the shutout win over defending state champion Pitkin, Clark held the Aggies to three hits.
Clark held Choudrant to four hits as the Wolves played the Aggies, who are on a 29-game winning streak, the closest of any other team in the playoffs.
“I don’t know that I make All-State without that,” Clark said. “It was definitely special.”
Monterey was 4-9 around the middle of the season.
“There wasn’t really anything pretty about our baseball,” Clark said. “It was give and take all year long. Most of us had to jump right in from basketball to baseball. I took one day off, but figured I had to get out there. There was no breaks in sports. Early in the season I saw glimpses of what could happen good and bad. I saw guys make plays I’ve never seen them make before, and then I saw missed fly balls.. We only won one playoff game, but everything seemed to fall in place at playoff time.”
Clark, who plans to major in civil engineering at Louisiana Tech, said he wants to try out for the baseball team at Tech.
“I just don’t want any regrets,” he said.
Like the one in Sulphur.
“I look at how Choudrant won the championship game 6-1 and this we could have been state champs,” he said.
“But it was still a great year,” he said.
Choudrant pitcher Braden Jones was named the Most Outstanding Player.
Jones finished with a 13-1 record for the state champions to go along with 136 strikeouts in just 73 innings pitched. Offensively, he batted .350 with 33 RBIs.