Area baseball players ready for All-Star Classic

A new venue and game format are some of the changes made to this year's Fifth Annual HTV-10 Friday Night Sports All-Star Baseball Classic.

After being held at Nicholls State University's Ray E. Didier Field for the first four years of its existence, this year's All-Star Classic will take place at Southland Field in Houma today.

The All-Star Classic, which is sponsored by Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, will be a doubleheader consisted of two seven-inning games.

The first game will start at 2 today, and the second game will follow.

HTV-10 Friday Night Sports host and organizer Stan Gravois said the event plans to return to Nicholls in the future, but they decided to give Houma a chance to host this year.

"We've always wanted to come here to Houma. There was no problem at Nicholls," Gravois said. "Being that we have some kids that graduate (this morning), we're going to give it a shot here in Houma this year see how it turns out."

The format of this year's All-Star Classic has also changed.

The games will feature a North Team, which is made up of senior athletes from Assumption, Central Lafourche, E.D. White Catholic, Morgan City, South Lafourche and Thibodaux, versus a South Team, which will have players from Covenant Christian, Ellender, H.L. Bourgeois, Houma Christian, South Terrebonne, Terrebonne and Vandebilt Catholic.

In the last two years, the Classic pitted a "Best of Class 5A" versus "The Best of Classes 4A, 3A and 1A" series, but Gravois said the format changed due to a small number of senior players from Class 5A schools this year.

The players who will represent the North Team are Logan Barbera, Payton Coddou, Brendon Gros, Nick Falgout, Scott Szush, Jace Toups, Michael Waguespack and Brett Duet of E.D. White Catholic; Norry Galjour and Corey Helmer of South Lafourche; Buck Gautreaux, Ryan Veillion and Dylan Hymel of Morgan City; Kerry Gregory of Central Lafourche and Slye Ourso of Assumption.

Representing the South Team is Kurt Arceneaux, Seth Cadiere and Alex Salassi of South Terrebonne; Josh Bergeron, Matt Bergeron, Blake Talbot and Jacob Walker of Vandebilt Catholic; Brent Duplantis and Nick Robinson of Ellender; Dakota Durkes and Jacob Mathieu of Houma Christian; Bobby Ellender and DeAndre Woods of H.L. Bourgeois; Rustin Guidry and Randall Soilleau of Covenant and Breagan Liner and Justin Williams of Terrebonne.

Despite the changes, Gravois said this year's game might go down as one of the best due to the nine college signees participating, which includes Williams (LSU), Szush (Southeastern Louisiana) and Coddou (University of New Orleans).

"I think it might be more competitive than ever," Gravois said. "I think the pitching is deeper than ever, and I think we have more kids who have signed already to play on the next level participating that we ever had. We have some guys who can really play this year, so we look forward to it."

Williams, a projected high pick in June's Major League Draft, is used to playing in All-Star events. While he enjoyed competing in the Perfect Game and Under Armour All-American All-Star games last year, Williams said he looks forward to playing closer to home with familiar faces.

"It's fun to get to end my high-school career on a good note with guys you've played against or played travel ball with," Williams said. "It's a fun experience. We can just come out and play without any pressure. You get to relax and just be yourself."

Some players, such as Covenant's Rustin Guidry, want to test their skills against the best.

"We're just coming out here to have fun and hopefully we get the win," Guidry said. "I'm just glad we can all come together and play as a team. It was fun playing against everybody. It will show if you are capable of playing at the next level because you're playing against the best guys from around this area."

E.D. White's Nick Falgout said playing in the All-Star game is the perfect way to close out a successful senior year. The Cardinals advanced to the Class 3A state championship game this year but suffered a 9-5 loss to Parkview Baptist.

With all eight of E.D. White's seniors playing in today's game, Falgout said he welcomes the chance of playing one more game in a high-school setting with his teammates.

"It will be a cool experience," Falgout said. "It will be the last game we play with all the seniors from E.D. White. It should be fun."

While wins are important for bragging rights only, North head coach David Constant of E.D. White said the game is a great way for the seniors to gain exposure.

"It's getting bigger and better every year," Constant said. "It's just always a blessing to be around the kids who are playing one last time in their high-school careers. Hopefully some will get a couple of looks from college scouts and a chance to play at the next level."

And South team assistant coach Joe Teuton III of Covenant Christian said he expects a pretty decent contest today.

"It's going to be very competitive," Teuton said. "We've got some really good talent. It's an honor to coach these kids. You've got to credit all the high school coaches in the area that have got these kids prepared in the last few years to play in this game."