By CHRISSY SMITH
SLIDELL — It is every little boy’s dream. Grow up to play America’s favorite pasttime — baseball. Get good enough to make the varsity high school team, and then win a state title.
That’s just what happened for the 2009 Northshore baseball team. The squad won 34 games that year as they went on to claim the Class 5A title. But the success of the players didn’t end with a state championship. From the 2009 champions, 11 of those players are now playing college baseball, and some are even starting to place each other in games.
From the senior class in 2009, Chad Gough-Fortenberry is playing at Delta State, Cody Deckwa is playing at Delgado and Sean Kennal is playing for Southeastern; from the junior class, Ryan Eades is playing for LSU, Chase Compton is at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Taylor Eades is at Pensacola State and Trey Rickrode is playing for McNeese; from the sophomore class, Kyle Deckwa is playing at Faulkner State, Breck Kline is at Southern Mississippi and Chris Miller is playing for Nichols; and from the freshman 2009 team, which just graduated this month as seniors, Chris Eades signed with Delgado.
Cody Deckwa said the 2009 team was so good because of the great chemistry.
“We knew what everybody was going to do on the field, and coach (Rick)?Mauldin was a great coach. He knew exactly what to tell the players, and in our senior class we had some great leaders and we tried to motivate everyone to work hard,”?Cody said.
He went to UNO after high school for three semesters, and pitched three innings when he hurt his arm and had had to have Tommy John surgery. He had thrown too many innings to be red shirted and was out the entire year from the injury. However, he came back strong and is now pitching at Delgado in the starting rotation.
Recently, Cody pitched against former high school teammate and current LSU?player Taylor Eades.
“There was a lot of trash talking before the game, and then afterwards it was a good laugh,”?Deckwa said. “It’s always exciting to play against someone you know.”
Cody also played against his younger brother Kyle last month. Kyle plays for Faulkner State and the two brothers faced each other in a game at Delgado.
“Playing against my brother made it really fun,”?Kyle said. “Cody was talking junk to me before the game, but we knew it would be fun. My parents had shirts made that on one side said ‘Faulkner’ and the other ‘Delgado.’”
To the younger Deckwa, it was the team chemistry in 2009 that won the Panthers a state title.
“We worked hard and competed because there was so much talent so I had to work harder and learn how to try to get some playing time. In 2009, we’d stayed after practice at least another hour to just work on things. We were all best friends and did everything together,” Cody said.
Since winning the state title, the Panthers have made the playoffs every year. In 2012, Northshore went 17-12 overall and made it to the first round of the playoffs where they faced No. 5 Jesuit and lost, 1-0.