When Mike Thibodeaux decided to take his team to Georgia to play in the U-17 Perfect Game Tournament he didn’t expect much.
Keep the team together, get good reps to help the team for the high school season, get the players in front of some scouts and have a good time.
When it was all said and done, his team earned a bid to the Perfect Game National Championship after finishing in second place.
“We got a little more out of it then we bargained for, honestly,” Thibodeaux said. “I saw what was going on with the travel baseball thing, paying a bunch of money to go to tournaments and all that.
“So I decided to start keeping my kids together during the summer time an offering that same type of experience.”
Thibodeaux said it has taken a while to get the summer program on its feet with kids playing different sports and going on vacations after school, but he was finally able to bring the kids out-of-state to a big tournament.
By keeping the players together during the summer, Thibodeaux can better control the workloads his players receive during summer ball.
“We keep inning counts, we keep track of how many curveballs we call and we make sure that we’re keeping as much information as possible,” Thibodeaux said. “I trust other summer coaches are doing that, but keeping an eye on everything yourself takes some of that worry away.”
Another benefit is having younger players get quality reps in a more stress-free environment than during the middle of the season.
Thibodeaux said he got to work with younger players that he normally wouldn’t get much time with during the season, and that those reps will manifest themselves into productive high school seasons.
“We played some tough teams, and it was just a different experience for the kids,” Thibodeaux said. “The facility was one of the best I’ve ever seen, it was just beautiful.
After going 5-0 during group play, the Rebels earned the No. 1 overall seed heading into the elimination bracket.
The Rebels ran into some trouble in the semifinal game, trailing 4-1 in the ninth with two outs before scratching and clawing their way to victory and into the finals.
“Man, it was pretty crazy. We had an incoming freshman draw a walk with two outs and then loaded the bases,” Thibodeaux said. “Then (Hayden) Cantrelle stepped up and got a walk off.”
While the Rebels fell in the finals, they still earned the bid to the National Tournament, which they will participate in next summer.
Thibodeaux said the Rebels could play in the National Tournament this summer, but the turnaround would be quick and they didn’t originally plan on having another travel tournament so soon.
The Rebels had the chance to pick up some individual accolades in the tournament, as Nick Webre was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The chance to play in front of the Perfect Game scouts was one of the main motivations for entering the tournament for Thibodeaux.
“It’s all online so people can pull up information on the kids and see reports for the Perfect Game scouts that were there,” Thibodeaux said. “Now Nick Webre will have a good rating on there and a bunch of the other kids will have information for people to see.
“It’s just another way to get more exposure that you might not get during the high school season.”