The foundation of the Lafayette Little League 15-16 All-Star team that coach Kevin Delcambre will be bringing to Seguin, Texas next weekend for the Southwest Regional isn’t new to this level of competition.
Four of them were part of the 11-12 group that made it to Williamsport back in 2011. Seven of them were on the 13-14 team that made it to the World Series in Michigan in 2013.
Even more players were part of last year’s 15-16 group that won the state title again, but fell at this regional tournament in Seguin.
“We had mostly 15s last year and that’s tough,” Delcambre said. “When you play the Texas teams, they’re going to have almost all 16s. There’s a big difference there in strength, in size and in pitching.
“This year, we’ve got 13 16-year-olds on the team, so this is the year that we’ve got the maturity on our side. I definitely think we’re capable of winning it.”
If the Lafayette All-Stars can survive the regional test, it’ll earn a spot in the Senior League World Series tournament field to be played Aug. 2-8 in Bangor, Maine.
Delcambre didn’t have to go very far to determine the huge difference a year can make. In 2012, his son Matthew was 5-foot-3 at 13. He quickly grew to 5-9 as a 14-year-old. Now, he’s 6-2 and weighs 200 pounds as a 16-year-old.
“Some kids mature early, but this is the time that most kids mature, so it’s a big advantage to be 16 at this stage,” Delcambre said.
At the Southwest Regional, Lafayette will be one of six teams vying for the World Series spot. Also in the field will be Texas West, Texas East, Colorado, New Mexico and host Seguin.
Lafayette’s first game is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, July 24, and the finals are slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28. All of Lafayette’s games will be broadcasted live by James P. Bitterman on KPEL 1420 AM.
“Texas East and Texas West are the teams to beat,” Delcambre said. “In my mind, it’s between those two Texas teams and us. I’d say that we’ve got about a 50-50 chance.”
Delcambre is blessed with pitching depth, led by ace right-hander Miguel Reyes of Lafayette High who verbally committed to LSU this past weekend.
Right behind Reyes is Mighty Lion teammate Joseph Battaglia and Comeaux High’s Colin Thibodeaux.
Providing depth on the mound are home-schooler Parker Bollich, Lafayette High’s Jose Gonzalez, Acadiana’s Chad Romero and Wreckin’ Ram shortstop Brandon Duhon.
The options on the infield include Reyes and Romero at third, Duhon at shortstop, Delcambre at first, Cole Romero at second and the catching duo of Cain Castille and Michael Guidry.
Cole Romero is the one 14-year-old on the team.
“He’s fast, he can hit and defensively, he just makes plays that will wow you,” Delcambre said. “He played second base for us throughout the state tournament and hit .625.”
Lafayette High’s Tyler Miller is the centerfielder, but other outfield options are Gonzales, Thibodeaux and Ascension Episcopal’s Jeffrey Elkins.
Lafayette advanced to the Southwest Regionals after defeating Jackson Parish 16-0 and Alexandria 12-1 to win the state crown.
“When you get to Seguin, you’re playing against good 5A level high school teams,” Delcambre said. “You’re going to see some kids throwing 90-91, some top-level athletes. It’s kind of like playing Barbe. It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got a chance.”