St. Al’s Sid Naron is the Vicksburg Post Coach of the Year

Published 2:21 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hopes might have been higher than expectations for the St. Aloysius Flashes this season.

Sure, the Flashes had won 33 games over the previous two seasons, but with only one senior starter on the roster and a lack of A-list arms, this seemed positioned as a year where the team laid the groundwork for future success.

The Flashes definitely did that — but they also did more.

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St. Al started the season with a 15-game winning streak and tied for the District 3-AAA championship. They lost out on a complicated tiebreaker and bowed out in the first round of the MAIS Class AAA playoffs to eventual runner-up Central Private, but showed they are an emerging championship contender.

For getting them there, St. Al’s Sid Naron is the 2018 Vicksburg Post baseball Coach of the Year. Naron, who has a 50-20 record in three seasons at St. Al, is the school’s first Coach of the Year since Derrik Boland in 2013. Warren Central’s Conner Douglas had won it the past four seasons.

“It’s a big honor. It’s definitely a reflection of our team, and the success that the team had this year and the direction our program is heading and the work that they’ve done,” Naron said. “And also the assistant coaches, Jay Harper and Kenny Strong, with the work that they’ve put in molding these players. We’re excited about the future, for sure.”

Naron said the groundwork for this season’s success started with an altered approach to the preseason. St. Al only had five seniors on the roster and one — infielder/pitcher Josh Collins — in the everyday lineup. Seeing that, Naron and his staff tried to treat the first couple of weeks of practice as a baseball boot camp.

“Early on, as coaches, we knew we were going to play some younger guys and we knew we were going to have to push them in different areas, but were really focusing on more fundamental things that we knew we were going to be exposed to,” Naron said. “We put as much pressure on them as we could before we got to games, and I think it paid off. The assistant coaches played a huge role in trying to identify different areas we needed to improve on before the season starts, and not wait until something goes wrong to try and correct it.”

It worked. The Flashes started the season 15-0 and didn’t lose until April 6 against Riverfield Academy. Along the way, the team got offensive contributions throughout the lineup and strong pitching from a number of players for whom it was not a primary skill.

Five pitchers recorded victories for the Flashes this season, and they had a team ERA of 1.65. Offensively, they hit .318 as a team and averaged eight runs per game.

Tyler Breithaupt was the ace of the pitching staff. He pitched in 10 of the team’s 21 games and went 7-2 with a 1.45 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 53 innings. Collins (3-1, 1.07 ERA) and Lane Hubbard (4-1, 2.89 ERA) also had their moments, however, with dominating performances in key games. Collins threw an eight-inning shutout in a 1-0 district win over Park Place.

“We had a lot of those guys who were not really prototypical pitchers who we were ready to put out there. Coach Harper worked with them and really got them to be successful in a game type situation. They got a little confidence and took off and ran with it,” Naron said.

Naron added that confidence and chemistry were key ingredients to the Flashes’ success. He praised Collins for his senior leadership, and the underclassmen for having the drive to do well. Eight of the nine starters will return next season, and with this one under their belt expectations will be higher than hope in 2019.

“It started at the top with Josh Collins, who made it fun for so many of the others. I could go on and on with many of the other guys, the sophomores and juniors that are baseball players,” Naron said. “They took it and thrived off each other and had fun. When you start winning it’s fun, and it got to be really contagious and that’s when the wins started piling up. We hope they can take that and carry it over into next year as well.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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