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Former Wildcat coach leads Louisiana team to state LHSAA semifinals

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By Tommie Kendall

Sports editor

While Henry County’s baseball team was close to becoming the first in school history to make the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament, former coach Mike Thibodeaux was enjoying his own success more than 800 miles away.

Thibodeaux temporarily left Henry County during pre-season conditioning this past winter to head back to Louisiana, where he ended up looking into, and eventually taking, the head coaching position for the Teurlings Catholic Rebels. In his first year as the head man, the Rebels finished with a 30-4 record and advanced to the semifinals of the LHSAA Baseball Playoffs.

During his two-year stint in Henry County, after inheriting a program from Nathan Tanner, Thibodeaux led the Wildcats to 13-12 and 17-10 seasons. They advanced to the 8th Region tournament in 2006, losing to South Oldham in the first round, and were knocked out in the 31st District tournament opening round by Carroll County in 2007.

Under the presumed guidance of Thibodeaux, predictions of a successful season filled the air to start the 2008 season. But when Thibodeaux went to Louisiana during Thanksgiving, he found out the Rebels had a job opening and decided to call it quits back in New Castle.

“I was in town and I called them and they said come in for an interview,” Thibodeaux told the website www.homerunscout.com during the Louisiana playoffs last month. “I was going to come back this summer (from Kentucky) and look for a job. But they offered it to me when I was on my way back to Kentucky. I got home and prayed about it and, by Christmas, I was back here. We started our conditioning and haven’t looked back.”

Thibodeaux wasn’t short on talent at his new school, with a pair of left-handed pitchers — Alex Fuselier (11-0 pitching record) and Taylor Dugas (11-1) — that had already signed with Louisiana-Lafayette and Alabama. They also had three players bat over .500 during the season in Dugas (.641 batting average, 11 homers), Fuselier (.527, 10) and Jordan Bourque (.519).

During the Class 4A playoffs, the Rebels defeated Warren East (10-0), Eunice (8-2) and Holy Cross (8-0) to reach the semifinals. Zachary High School, who went on to win the state title a few days later, ended the Rebels’ season in the semis with a 7-5 outing.

Meanwhile, back in New Castle, the Wildcats had one of their most successful seasons with a North Central Kentucky Conference championship, a 31st District championship and a trip to the 8th Region finals for just the second time in school history.

Thibodeaux handed the reigns to assistant coach Austin Hunsaker, and he ran with it. When the season concluded in the regional finals, Henry had accumulated a 20-8 overall record, won conference for the first time since 2001, won districts for the first time since 1998 and advanced to the regional championship game for the first time since 1963.

In the end, it looked to be a good fit for both coaches.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.