The high school sports year came to a close in style Tuesday night, with Barbe beating Sam Houston for the Class 5A state baseball championship at a packed McMurry Park in Sulphur.
It was a heck of a way to go out.
The tournament was a high-water mark for the school year with area schools Barbe, Kinder, Oberlin and Pitkin taking home championship trophies while Sam Houston and South Beauregard finished as runners-up.
The event featured an extra inning, walk-off home run from South Beauregard's Chase Fisher to cap an epic semifinal game against Iowa, monumental blasts of the bats from Barbe's Brody Drost and Kinder's Michael Fontenot, dominant pitching performances from Sam Houston's Cameron Meeks and Pitkin's Garrett Edwards and a game-saving performance by Kinder freshman Brooks Fawcett.
This year's trophy haul could be a sign of more big things to come on the diamond.
Drost, Fontenot, Edwards and Fawcett will all return next year as their teams look to repeat. Barbe gets five of its top six hitters back as well as ace pitcher Jack Walker.
Sam Houston, which like Barbe was nationally ranked through most of the season, returns championship game starting pitcher Kyle Bartley and closer Marcus Mott. Oberlin's title-winning team featured one senior. Both starting pitchers from the state tournament, Trevor Rider and Kellon McCleon, will be back.
Plenty of other youngsters in other sports made their marks this year.
A young Barbe team reached the Class 5A championship game in softball and will return freshman pitcher/slugger Halie Pappion, freshman outfielder Nyjah Fontenot and sophomore Alana Mark, who like Pappion, homered at the state tournament.
The Hamilton Christian boys basketball team has been to three consecutive state tournaments, including a trip to the Division IV championship game this season. Two-time all-state point guard Michael Thomas returns next year. Edwards is a two-sport star at Pitkin who averaged more than 30 points per game. In the past two seasons he has helped the Tigers to a pair of trips to the state tournament in baseball and another in basketball.
Elton, the 1A champion in girls hoops, will return star center Vici Woods. St. Louis reached the title game in Division II and will return a strong nucleus that will include Anaiya Turner, Myca Trail, Torrey Washington and Maggie Bruchhaus. State finalist Reeves will return Maddi Ford and benefit from the return of Claire Dunnehoo, who missed the majority of the season due to injury.
LaGrange returns most of its starters, including All-Southwest Louisiana players Jeriah Warren and Aasia Sam. Deonna Brister will be back to lead a Lake Arthur team that, like LaGrange, narrowly missed a trip to the state tournament.
On the gridiron, offers have been rolling in for area players. Freshman defensive back/running back Trevor Etienne of Jennings holds an offer from LSU, as does teammate Keenan Landry, a defensive lineman. Lake Charles College Prep receiver Solomon Lewis earned offers from Tulane and Miami, while teammates (offensive lineman) Gabe Rankins and (defensive back) Kylin Andrus have received offers as well.
Leesville, a Class 4A semifinalist last season, returns the running back tandem of Caleb and D'ante Gallashaw. Sam Houston offensive lineman Jerren Gilbert and Iowa DB/WR C.J. Ceasar have also received Division I offers.
With so many stars returning, maybe next year will provide fireworks throughout the year.
Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org