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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Young Cardinals will still compete in their tough baseball district

 

Last updated 2/27/2024 at 10:13am

Coach Chad Landry of the Bridge City Cardinals baseball team

Bridge City baseball had a good year in 2023. The Cardinals will be younger this season, but have a good group of ball players that should carry them to another successful season this year.

The Bridge City Cardinals finished last season with 25 wins which is the most for them in quite a few seasons. Huffman proved to be a tough opponent in the second round of the state playoffs, and the Cardinals were eliminated in a competitive three game series.

Cardinal Coach Chad Landry said Bridge City has a core group of veterans with a bunch of younger Cardinals who want to learn. "Last year was a good year. We got a lot of guys some experience. We had a lot of seniors though, losing thirteen or fourteen to graduation. Replacing those guys for this year has been our top priority because that was a lot of experience, a lot of depth. This season has been a been a big learning curve so far with so many new Cardinals, but we're excited and it is good to have some young guys that we can go back to coaching a little bit of the basic stuff. The environment is good, the atmosphere is good, and we're excited about it," Landry expressed.

There are six seniors on the Bridge City varsity and three of those have been starters multiple years. John Van Huis is a four year starter in centerfield, Landon Reeves is also a four year starter at multiple positions, and Aidyn Mulhollan is a three year starter as a pitcher and infielder.

Landry praised, "Those three seniors have played a lot of games. They've experienced a lot, they've seen a lot, they know how it works. We count on those guys to really produce for us, to lead for us, and to really show our younger Cardinals how we would like to do things."

Outfielder Gavin Bodin is a senior who has been playing well. Another senior Lorn Little is a first baseman who can hit the baseball a long way.

Brayton Tregre is the sixth senior on the Bridge City varsity. "Brayton is a great teammate. He's a guy that every program needs. In fact we're going to throw him on the mound a little bit this year. He's done a great job in the scrimmages early so could be a guy to eat up some innings for us and I look forward to seeing that," Landry described Tregre.

The sophomore class at Bridge City is a large group and is the biggest class since Landry came here in 2009. Twenty-three altogether are in the baseball program with at least eight on the varsity which makes up the majority of the Cardinal pitching staff.

Austin Frederick, Hunter Ford, and CJ Riojas were three sophomores who saw playing time as freshmen. Brady Havard, Max Pachar, and Owen Tucker will definitely see playing time this season.

Landry elaborated, "All these guys are going to have to play for us. They're going to have to learn, they're going to have to get after it, and they have all the talent in the world. They're great players. We've just got to get them a little more experience."

"Our under level guys, our young guys, are extremely eager to learn. It doesn't matter what we throw at them every day in practice they're right there they're ready to take it. They're absorbing it. Coach Elmer Laird and Coach Shea Landry have done a great job. We threw the book at the new kids on day one knowing they wouldn't get it all, but this is what it takes. The young Cardinals want to do it, they want to be here, they want to represent our program, and the interlocking "B C" that is on their hats," Landry added.

Hitting should be a positive aspect for Bridge City this season. The Cardinal lineup is very balanced with guys that can put balls in play.

Coach Chad Landry evaluated, "We really like our team speed overall. We can run. We're extremely athletic starting with Hutch Bearden. When Hutch is on the baseball field he's flying, it is impressive to watch how well he moves on the baseball field."

The coach predicted Bridge City may not hit a ton of homeruns. The Cardinals have gravitated towards it is okay to put the ball on the ground with their bats because they have the speed to beat out grounders and to help move runners over a base. "The more that we do that the better we're going to be. Our offense has morphed into contact driven, small ball driven, athletic driven, and to get on base to score runs" Landry confirmed.

The Cardinal offense starts with leadoff batter John Van Huis. "John has been a leadoff guy for multiple years. I like describing John as he's not great at anything, but he is really, really good at everything. John's a baseball player every team wants at the top of their lineup. It is great to see him develop into the player and leader that he is today," Landry responded.

Pitching is a key to any team's success especially in a tough district like 19-4A where Bridge City competes. Through the early scrimmages a couple Cardinal pitchers have established themselves as the two aces of the staff.

Aidyn Mulhollan is the number one starter for Bridge City. Landry and the coaches rested Aidyn in the fall, have slowly brought him back, he is healthy now, and pitched very well in a game against one of the top teams in Louisiana.

The number two pitcher will be Landon Reeves who will move into more of a starter's role after serving as a relief specialist last year. Young arms include Brady Havard, Max Pachar, Owen Tucker, and Trey Goodwin who all will see time on the hill for Bridge City.

Landry analyzed, "It's a lot of arms right now because we don't know if they can go out and give us five innings. We don't know, they haven't done it. We have enough arms that are dressing right now, if they can give us six outs we'll take six outs and we'll go to the next guy. Until we settle into our true starters and our long guys out of the bull pen we're going to continue to have all those guys up on the varsity and eat up three to six outs a game with them."

The Cardinals will compete in a tough district with Little Cypress Mauriceville which had a very young team in 2023 expected to rebound this year. "We feel like the Bears will be one of the top teams to beat in the district because they are loaded with arms and talent. Lumberton has their two arms back. It's a dogfight, it's a battle, it's stressful. We love to compete. It's going to be a tough test for us with so many young guys, but we want to get cranked up," Landry concluded.

 

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