Sterlington senior catcher/designated hitter Braden Hough has verbally committed to accept a baseball scholarship offer from the University of New Orleans.
For the first time in program history, the Panthers will take the field with three Division I commits during the upcoming season. Junior shortstop Seaver Sheets has committed to Auburn while left-handed pitcher Adam Tubbs has pledged to ULM. Hough and Tubbs both plan to sign in the spring.
Hough considered attending LSU and giving up baseball after high school, but was sold on the Privateers after meeting with coach Blake Dean.
“On my first visit, me and my dad (Brad Hough) had a conversation with coach Dean, and he won me over,” Hough said.
Amid talks of the school’s athletic programs dropping to Division III, UNO baseball suffered a drastic decline from 2010-2015. Now entering his fifth year at the helm, Dean has brought stability to the program. Over the past four years, the Privateers have put together three winning seasons and qualified for the Southland Conference Tournament three times.
“When coach Dean first got there, they were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and he started recruiting a lot of juco guys,” Hough said. “Now that they are back on their feet, he has been recruiting a lot of in-state high school guys.”
Dean reached into northeast Louisiana last year to sign Claiborne Christian right-hander Austin Acree and Ruston infielder Kasten Furr.
“That was another thing I liked about UNO. It helps having a couple of buddies, who are already on the team.,” Hough said.
In preparation for taking the next step, Hough said he is in the process of changing his approach at the plate.
“Coach Dean likes my defensive play — that’s always been my strong suit,” Hough said. “When I went down there the first time, he told me if I wanted to play for UNO, I was going to have to start hitting for more power. So, that’s what I’ve been working on — less for average, but more from the power side.
At Sterlington, Hough has been a fixture in the starting lineup his entire varsity career, earning first-team All-District recognition all three years.
“My freshman year, I kind of played my role and hit from the No. 8 hole,” Hough said. “My sophomore year, I had to step up and be a leader, which really helped me. I had to start leading at an earlier age than most people have to.”
Hough has been part of the school’s first two state baseball championships. Sterlington’s three-year run includes state titles in 2017 and 2019, and a state semifinal appearance in 2018.
“We have won a lot of games,” Hough said. “We have good coaches (Mark Sims and Ben Sheets), who care about you, and guys who want to win. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
As a junior, Hough hit .359 with a home run, five doubles, a team-high five sacrifice flies and 32 RBIs. A tough out, he drew 19 walks and was hit by a pitch four times, while striking out only six times in 133 plate appearances.
For the past several years, Hough has played travel ball for Team Louisiana, coached by Jeremy Picard.
Hough plans to major in business marketing at UNO.