Ben David signing day

Ben David signs with McNeese State University at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., Wednesday, Nov.13, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Top senior athletes throughout Southwest Louisiana signed letters of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the fall signing period, to compete at the college level.

Barbe High baseball had four signees, three of whom — Ben David (McNeese State), infielder Davis Meche (Mississippi State and pitcher/first baseman Brody Drost (LSU) — are going to Division I schools. The fourth, Ben Stevens, signed with Central Baptist College of St. Louis, an NAIA school.

“I’ve been watching LSU since I was 4 years old and have always been a big fan,” Drost said. “They made me a real good offer and I jumped on it.”

Drost and Meche will square off annually at the next level.

“The trash talk hasn’t started yet, but it’s going to happen,” Meche said. “I went to Starkville a few times and loved it; the atmosphere on game days is awesome. It has been great playing baseball and football here at Barbe, the coaches have been great and it is something I will always remember.”

David said McNeese offered the best of both worlds for a student-athlete.

“Academics are really good and the baseball program is great,” he said. “I love the coaches, the players and the atmosphere. Staying at home and being able to stay with my family is the best.”

McNeese added a pair of area players in Sulphur pitcher Cameron Lejeune and DeQuincy outfielder Cooper Hext.

“It is right across the river, so it is like home,” Lejeune said. “It has been the place I wanted to go. When they called, I definitely knew that was where I wanted to go.”

As a junior last spring, LeJeune led the Tors pitching staff with a 1.20 earned run average. Over 46 2/3 innings, he struck out 57 batters to 16 walks, went 3-4 and picked up a pair of saves.

Fellow Tors pitcher Kainin Marrow signed with Parish (Texas) Junior College.

Hext said he always dreamed of playing at the college level.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Hext said. “It’s all I ever wanted growing up as a kid to play college baseball and to continue having fun playing the game I love. I chose McNeese, because when I went on my visit, Coach (Justin) Hill and the rest of the coaches made it feel like home, also it’s close to my family.”

Hext helped lead the Tigers to the Class 2A regional round last season and earned first-team All-District 5-2A honors.

At Sam Houston, Andie Edwards signed to play softball at Louisiana-Monroe while baseball player Kyle Bartley signed with Southeastern Louisiana. Both are infielders, with Bartley also part of the Broncos’ pitching rotation. He helped Sam Houston reach the Class 5A championship game last season.

“It is really amazing to know that you put all this hard work in,” Edwards said. “It is real relaxing to know that now I have somewhere to go and all the hard work is paying off. I like the coaches there and being around the girls and the campus. It is a place I could call home.”

Bartley said a trip to Hammond sold him on the Lions.

“It’s what I’ve always worked for, ever since I was a kid I wanted to play college ball,” he said. “When I went to Southeastern, it felt like home. I liked the coaching staff and the players.”

At St. Louis, a pair of Saints joined national powerhouses with wrestler Alexander Yokubaitis, a three-time state champion, signing with Oklahoma State and baseball player Gus Milligan signing with LSU.

“Oklahoma State is a great school, generally, and has Coach John Smith, one of the best ever and one of the best wrestlers ever,” Yokubaitis said.

Milligan said getting an offer from the Tigers was a dream come true.

“To be able to play at the next level is a blessing, especially at the level LSU plays at,” Milligan said. “My sister goes there, my mom went there; we love Baton Rouge and the Tigers.”

Saints softball player Madison Guillory signed with Louisiana College.

Kinder softball player Chloe Oliver signed with William Carey.

The lone basketball signee of the day was Westlake’s high-scoring guard Jada Gasaway, who signed with Southern Arkansas.

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