Second-year head coach Garrett Maum wants more. It's no longer just about having dedicated players that want to play baseball. It's now about striving for excellence.
The Donaldsonville baseball program experienced a complete transformation last season.
They went from barely having enough players to field a team and winning just one game to having a deep roster that led them to double-digit victories. But the program’s evolution isn’t complete.
Second-year head coach Garrett Maum wants more. It’s no longer just about having dedicated players that want to play baseball. It’s now about striving for excellence.
With such low interest in the sport, Donaldsonville only played 14 games last season. None of those games were played against district opponents.
That changes in 2018. With the great success of last season and with the large player turnout, the Tigers are set to play 26 games this year. That includes 10 District 10-3A contests.
Playing league games will now make them eligible to make the postseason.
It wasn’t that long ago when the terms “Donaldsonville baseball” and “playoffs” would never be uttered in the same sentence, but that changed last season. Under Maum, the program was able to take a huge step forward.
Before beginning his first year as Donaldsonville’s head coach, he said that they “wanted to change the culture. We want the kids to be excited about baseball.”
The excitement began before the Tigers ever hit the field, when their park received numerous renovations. The fences, dugouts and playing surface were all upgraded.
When it came time for their first practice, Maum said that over 30 kids showed up. For the most part, they stuck with it as 18 players remained on their opening-day roster.
It all led to great fortune in 2017, as the team went 12-2 overall. It was the program’s first winning season in at least 17 years. That’s as far back as the record books go.
Donaldsonville only won one game during the previous season. In fact, dating back to 2010, the Tigers had only won a total of nine games prior to last year.
“We had a great turnaround and successful year. As we continued to improve, we continued to adjust our expectations. The team always met those higher expectations,” Maum said.
Things look promising in 2018.
Once again, there has been a good turnout for the Tigers. Their preseason roster has 21 players, up three from last year.
Though, Donaldsonville will lose three important pieces in Kaleb Phillips, Antonio Mera and Jamar Bougere. All three players hit at least .324 last season.
Mara had the team’s second-highest batting average at .353, and Phillips was one of the starting pitchers in the Tigers’ rotation.
Fortunately for Donaldsonville, everyone else will return for them.
Most notably, Trevon Mitchell will come back as a dangerous triple-threat. Mitchell will be the team’s starting catcher, and he will be their returning No. 2 pitcher after going 4-1 in 2017.
From the plate, Mitchell is the team’s leading hitter. His batting average was the best on the squad last season at .366.
Tim Campbell will return as the ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff. Campbell went 5-1 last season.
“Our strengths are still to be determined. We return a lot and expect to improve even more from the mound,” Maum said.
Other experienced players that will return in 2018 will be Trevon Dunn, Charles Brown, Brandon Williams and Malik Fowler. Dunn had the best batting average of the four at .278.
The Tigers will play Grace King at the St. Augustine Jamboree on Feb. 17. On Feb. 20, they will officially begin their season with a road trip to Avoyelles.
Coach Maum said that this season will be about more than just wins and losses. It’s about the advancement of Tiger baseball.
“I’m excited for the team to continue to grow,” Maum said. “Last year, we had a good team. This year, we look to be more than just a good team, but to become a good program. We’re playing a district schedule for the first time in two years, and we’re ready for the challenge.”