Leonards, Desselle to play in All-Star game

CROWLEY – Notre Dame’s Ryan Leonards and Crowley High’s Justin Desselle have one more chapter to write before closing the books on their respective prep careers.

They’ll do that this weekend when they take part in the LHSCA All-Star doubleheader at Bringhurst Park in Alexandria. The first game is slated for tonight at 7:30 and the second will be played at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.

“This is a great honor for both of these players,” said Notre Dame coach Timmy Robichaux, who has coached both players over the last two summers during the American Legion season.

Leonards, who signed with UL-Lafayette in the fall, helped lead the Pios to a state championship in football as the starting quarterback and another state title in baseball as a pitcher/shortstop during his senior year.

“I think that this is one of the honors that he should have for the four years that’s he’s been here and especially for his senior year,” said Robichaux of Leonards, who made the All-Star team as a shortstop.

Leonards was a key in the Pios’ title run in baseball both in the field and at the plate. His play at shortstop was nothing short of stellar while he also went 9-1 on the mound with a 1.50 earned run average. In 65 1/3 innings, he gave up 14 earned runs and struck out 91 batters.

“Especially this year, Ryan helped us so much on the mound,” said Robichaux. “He’s a big part of our defense, too, but this year where he helped us the most was on the mound. He closed that gap and truly became a pitcher this season. That’s where he made his biggest improvement.”

Offensively, Leonards posted an average of .517 to go along with a .949 slugging percentage. He had 61 hits on the year in 118 plate appearances and drove in 44 runs.

“On the hitting side, if you’re in the 40-hit club at Notre Dame, you’re a good hitter,” said Robichaux. “He shattered that. He had 61 hits.”

Desselle also had a tremendous season, helping lead the Gents to a 22-win season and a second-place finish in District 4-AAA.

The LSU-Eunice commitment made the All-Star roster as a pitcher after finishing his senior campaign with an earned run average of 2.37. He gave up just 13 earned runs in 42 2/3 innings and logged 69 strikeouts.

“This is a great honor for Justin and I’m happy for him,” said Crowley High coach Christian Doughty, whose son Mike made the All-Star team as a Gent in 2008. “I think it’s a good opportunity for him to match up against the type hitters he’ll be facing when he gets to LSUE. It will be a good opportunity for him to measure where he is right now and where he needs to be.”

Desselle’s 4-4 prep record is a bit deceiving considering the fact that his four losses came to the likes of Class AAAA powers Barbe and West Monroe and Class AAA Iowa and Eunice.

“Justin got a lot of the big starts this year,” said Doughty of his hard-throwing southpaw. “He pitched against some very tough competition and he kept us in those ballgames. He did a great job for us and he competed well. His velocity is beginning to get better, he’s beginning to have much better command of his pitches and I look for him to have a lot of success in the future as long as he continues to work hard.”

Desselle was also a force at the plate for the Gents, hitting .364 with eight doubles, three triples, two home runs and 29 RBI.

“Justin actually hit anywhere from No. 4 to No. 7 in the lineup for us and he had a good year,” said Doughty. “He kind of slid a little in the second half of the season, but not to the point where he wasn’t productive, though.”

Leonards and Desselle will play for the West squad along with Barbe standout Juan Rosado, Eunice’s Stuart Turner, Lafayette High’s Connor Smith and North Vermilion’s Mark Frederick.

The East squad is headlined by Parkview Baptist’s Brady Wilson, Lutcher’s Gavin Webster and Austin Roussel and Denham Springs’ Jacob Saizan.

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