LBA Naturals Blue 12U win major tournament in New York


A local youth baseball team outlasted 103 others squads from around the country to claim a national title at the Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Thursday.

The Louisiana Baseball Naturals, a 12-and-under USSSA select team based in Terrebonne Parish, won four games over a 15-hour period on Thursday to take home the title on the final day of the tourney, which was played in the town where the National Baseball Hall of Fame is located.

After pool play began Sunday and ended Tuesday, LBA went through the single-elimination bracket portion of the event as the No. 13 seed and finished undefeated and with the national title.

The team did not drop a game in the tournament.

On the final day of the tourney, the Naturals (31-9-1) beat South San Francisco, 6-2, the Illinois Sparks, 15-13, Venom, Calif., 14-6 and, for the title, topped the So Cal Mustangs 7-4.

LBA Naturals Blue team members are Gavin Dugas, Blake Trant, Braden Whatley, Gabriel Theiss, Thailer Lovell, Austin Champagne, Brandt Roger, Kolby Dufrene, Cameron Folse, Saige Pellegrin and Emile Armand.

Justin Ford is the head coach and Eric Marmande and Devin Steib are the assistants.

In the title game, LBA scored two runs in the first, a run in the second, two runs in the third and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Dugas got the win on the mound after going the distance, allowing an earned run on seven hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.

At the plate, he was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two homers, and Trant and Whatley each added home runs.

Josh Constant is the founder and owner of the Louisiana Baseball Academy and he praised the efforts of players during the magical last five days and over their years or playing together.

“I am so proud of this group of kids. They competed all week,” Constant said. “They fought from behind, jumped ahead in some games and stayed focused with big leads, and they played in some close games. They did it all. We got hits when we needed them and strikeouts when we needed them. It all came together. To go undefeated in a tournament of this caliber is unbelievable. It’s a great group of kids, and they have worked really hard these past few years.”