Photo by Bobby Moore, Northwest Baseball Coach
Northwest High postseason baseball tradition has been virtually non-existent, that is until the Raiders received the Class 3A playoff brackets Sunday afternoon.
A program that has struggled in the past just to maintain a viable roster gets a chance now to extend a regular season for the first time in school history.
“It’s a really big deal for the school, being the first baseball team to make the playoffs. The school here began in 1992, so to make the postseason and accomplish a goal the team set before we started this year is really huge for us,” said baseball coach Bobby Moore.
The Raiders (10-14) are No. 32 in the Class 3A bracket. Northwest travels Tuesday night to meet top-seeded Berwick at 6:30 in a bi-district playoff game.
This season is also a new experience for Moore, a longtime Northwest football assistant, who until this year had never been a high school baseball head coach.
Moore assisted Raiders’ baseball last year and then agreed to take control of the program this season. That experience game Moore a chance to prepare for a total rebuilding experience.
There was much work to do at the start Moore recalls.
That process Moore says included convincing players who had seldom experienced a winning tradition to make the commitment to play baseball, refurbishing a field that had languished due neglect and teaching the fundamentals of the game.
“Our biggest problem is we really have no feeder program. Our kids from Plaisance and Lawtell have had nowhere to play baseball the last few years unless some of them were on one of those showcase teams. Most of them hadn’t played baseball for three or four years before they started back up in high school,” Moore pointed out.
Northwest started 2022 with 25 players and for the playoffs the Raiders will bring 17 to play at Berwick.
“Usually (Northwest) would have only nine of 10 guys for a game, so having the number that we do now has been a luxury,” notes Moore.
The condition of the baseball field and refitting it to play games has also been challenging, Moore mentions.
“Last year the School Board brought in two loads of dirt and we had another delivery of that again at the start of this season. Our kids call our field the swamp, because there are still some low spots here and there. Overall though we have it now in pretty good shape,” Moore says.
Like most high school baseball coaches, Moore also became a field designer, using a tractor and a tiller to massage the field into playing condition.
Moore’s previous head baseball coaching experience was limited to recreational league settings, but he credits his players for helping make the transition to the larger stage.
“I’ve been here seven years and during that time no one has really stayed with baseball. I figured if we wanted to have baseball maybe I should be the one to step in. Fortunately I have a good group of players that I had to work with. They set a goal of making the playoffs and they accomplished that,” says Moore.
Northwest Moore feels has six pitchers, giving the Raiders mound depth that they hadn’t experienced in many seasons.
Chance Vidrine, Cody Leger and Cade Lalonde are three seniors that have pitched capably this year, says Moore, along with Briar Lee, a centerfielder who threw a complete game against Ville Platte.
“We have four seniors, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman who are our core players. Fortunately we were also able to find some young kids who wanted to play. We won a couple of early games then lost nine in a row. We are playing our best baseball right now,” Moore points out.