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Houma Christian's Haydel headed to Co-Lin

Jonathan Haydel has signed to play baseball at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. (Photo by Kelly McElroy/Staff)

Jonathan Haydel has not played organized baseball since 2012 when his senior season at Houma Christian was cut short because of an elbow injury.

But that did not stop him from impressing the coaches of the Copiah-Lincoln Community College baseball team enough at a recent tryout for them to offer Haydel a spot on the team.

Haydel has signed to play baseball at the two-year school in Wesson, Miss. He injured his elbow pitching his senior year at Houma Christian.

"After my injury I graduated and decided to go to LSU," Haydel said. "After my injury, I really didn't have a passion for baseball so I pursued school at LSU. I came back (to Houma) and went to Fletcher (Technical Community College) and started working, but I got my passion back for baseball. It was always a dream I always had. I figured what's the point of having dreams if you don't chase after them?"

Haydel said he will go to Co-Lin as a pitcher, but may also play other positions.

"It was just always in the back of my mind to keep playing, so I just pursued it," Haydel said. "I am still in my rehab, and I will start back (playing) in the fall season. My mom and step dad live (near Co-Lin), and I was moving there to go to school so I tried out for baseball and it worked out."

Haydel's high school coach Chuck Battaglia said he is happy Haydel is getting another chance at playing baseball.

"I am extremely excited to see that he has the opportunity to play again," Battaglia said. "It's hard enough to finish playing high school ball after your senior year, but it makes it tougher when you have an injury and can't really play your whole senior year. He has seen the right doctors and got (his elbow) taken care of. For him to get this second chance to go out and play the game that he loves is just a tremendous blessing for him. He gets to go out there and show what he can do on the mound."

Battaglia said Haydel is a natural leader.

"Jonathan was a great leader for us, a tremendous leader, even after his injury," Battaglia said. "It's tough because it is much harder to lead when you are not playing because of an injury, but he was still there to motivate the guys. He was a great asset."

Josh Constant, who owns Louisiana Baseball Academy (LBA), is an assistant coach at Houma Christian and has been training with Haydel recently.

"He loves the game," Constant said. "I was only around him a short while his senior year (at Houma Christian) before he got hurt, but he was a team leader for that group. It was tough when he went down. When a kid loves the game that much, it kind of leaks into the other players. This is a great opportunity for him. We are really excited for him."

Haydel has been working with Constant to perfect a new throwing motion that won't put as much strain on his elbow.

"We have been working to change his throwing motion," Constant said. "I think we have his arm swing where it needs to be. He was hyper extending his elbow, but now we have him where he is swinging his arm around. It's a tough thing to do at his age, to change the arm swing, but he is committed to it. He has been working hard."

Haydel said he plans to play two years at Co-Lin and won't redshirt. He added that his elbow is nearly back to pre-injury strength.

"It's good," Haydel said. "I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent, but I am progressing. I am getting there. My arm is feeling a lot better than it was so I can't complain. I have had a lot of support from my coaches at Houma Christian and Josh at LBA."