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Baseball: Robichaux looking for assistant – Fall Ball – Hatfield

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • August 22, 2008

The natural cycle repeats itself year after year in the coaching profession: An assistant from a mid-major college program leaves to coach for a program in a bigger conference.

That’s what happened earlier this week when John Szefc, who spent the past six seasons as UL’s head assistant baseball coach, left to take the same position at the University of Kansas.

Tony Robichaux, the head coach for the Ragin’ Cajuns, knows how to deal with this process. Wade Simoneaux spent seven years as an assistant at UL before taking over at Louisiana Tech in 2001. Robichaux lost three assistants at McNeese State – Todd Butler, Brad Holland and Jim Ricklefsen – to other programs. Holland became the head coach at ULM. Butler (Arkansas) and Ricklefsen (Lamar) took assistant positions.

"When you coach at a mid-major (school) there’s going to be opportunities from other conferences around the country," Robichaux said. "What you want for your assistant coaches is for them to better themselves and their family. When John got here he had no family – and now he has two beautiful children.

"Life changes along the way."

Now the Cajuns are looking to hire an assistant with Szefc’s departure. Robichaux said he is currently accepting applications for the opening. The goal is to fill the position by Sept. 15.

Robichaux said longtime assistant Anthony Babineaux will take over Szefc’s coaching responsibilities until a replacement is hired. At that time Robichaux will evenly divide up the between his two assistants.

"We have some very good applicants so far," Robichaux said. "We have almost 20 applicants now, and that’s only two or three days after we really let out any information."

Robichaux, who has received interest from applicants from in and outside of Louisiana, said he would like to hire someone with ties to the area. He said Jason Krug, a volunteer assistant coach for the Cajuns the past two seasons, will be interviewed and wants to be considered for the job.

Chris Domingue, who has served the past six seasons as UL’s director of baseball operations, has not expressed interest in the position.

Regardless of the new hire, Szefc expects the Cajuns to improve on last season’s 30-29 record. Injuries and inconsistencies resulted in a down year as the Cajuns ranked last in the Sun Belt in hitting and defense after being picked in the preseason to win the league.

"Tony has a good idea of what he wants to do," Szefc said. "I think there are a lot of guys who can be successful there. Tony is going to make the right decision."

Ready to report

The Cajuns report to campus this weekend for a team meeting and start classes on Monday. Fall ball for the team begins on Oct. 1.

Robichaux expects every underclassman from last year’s team to return except junior pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was drafted in the 10th round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

All 10 members of UL’s incoming recruiting class are expected to report. Of its seven junior college signees, four are position players – first baseman Jon Masch of Richland (Texas) College, second baseman Kyle Bostick from College of Southern Nevada, first baseman Chad Keefer of North Central Texas College and outfielder Kyle Olasin of Delgado Community College.

Masch, Bostick and Keefer were added in the summer. Masch was a first team All-American this season after hitting .410 and leading the nation in RBIs (89) and ranking second in home runs (19). The former Texas State signee helped Richland finish third at the NJCAA Division III World Series.

Bostick, one of eight NCAA Division I signees from College of Southern Nevada, led the team in hits (71) and doubles (16) and tied for the lead in hitting (.343). He also has a slick glove, posting a .965 fielding percentage and helping turn 41 double plays.

Keefer, drafted in the 29th round in 2007 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit .336 with 10 doubles, six homers and 28 RBIs last season for NCTC. He was a second team all-conference selection at catcher.

The remaining junior college signees are pitchers – right-handers Garrett Larsen of Navarro (Texas) College and Zach Osborne from New Mexico Junior College and left-hander Taylor Hubbell of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College.

UL also signed outfielder/left-hander Alex Fuselier from Teurlings Catholic, right-hander Matthew Lackie of McKinney (Texas) High and outfielder Les Smith from Dyersburg (Tenn.) High.

Szefc called the incoming recruiting class "one of the best" during his tenure at UL.

One more year?

Kolin Hatfield was listed as a senior last year, but the outfielder got only one at-bat because of a hyper-extended knee suffered in the preseason. Robichaux said the university is getting close to making an appeal for Hatfield to receive an additional year of eligibility.

"That’s going through our training room and compliance office, and we won’t know prior to the start of school," Robichaux said. "We have to get a lot of paperwork from doctors before they can make the appeal. We’d love to have him back."

Hatfield hit .264 with four home runs and 34 RBIs as a junior in 2007 after playing his first two seasons at Sam Houston State. The Houston native tied three school records and tied another that season on March 31 against Florida International, going 5-for-5 with three homers, nine RBIs and 15 total bases.