French Settlement principal John Chewning was a little bit in awe of his hires for the school’s baseball program, and it’s understandable.
Former LSU battery mates Kade Scivicque and Jared Poche’ will take over the program, with Scivicque as head coach and Poche’ as pitching coach.
“It’s still a little surreal that we’ll have one of the best players to come through Livingston Parish for sure with Kade, who was a solid, top- notch player at LSU and everyday starter and well known and all that stuff,” Chewning said. “And then you get to bring Jared along with him, who’s maybe the winningest pitcher in LSU history, and they’re going to come down and take over our program for us. It’s just pretty unbelievable. I couldn’t be more excited for what it means for our kids. I think we’re really going to see some rejuvenated players on our team that are going to be excited to be part of the program and some community that’s going to really appreciate what we have here because not a lot of people can say that they got a couple of LSU greats that are going to turn around and come take over their program for them.
“I don’t know if I’m quite ready to say I’m excited for the school year to start. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to baseball season.”
Scivicque, who played at Maurepas, last played minor league baseball in 2019, splitting time between the AAA Toledo Mud Hens and the AA Erie SeaWolves, affiliates of the Detroit Tigers.
The 2020 minor league season was cancelled because of COVID -19, and Scivicque and his wife, Ariel, welcomed a son, which he said changed his perspective on things.
“I worked a few contracts, actually had the (Texas) Rangers call not too long ago, but with COVID and with everything that went on and all the teams that got cut (in the minor leagues), either the pay is not there, the uncertainty is there,” he said. “It’s just a lot up in the air, and quite frankly, it’s tough to reach an agreement. If you reach an agreement, they want you gone in no time, and right now, having an eight-month-old baby at home, things are a little different. I don’t want to leave for eight months without my family with me. When I was negotiating contracts, I was kind of negotiating in the sense of making sure my family would be able to visit or stay or whatever and make sure everything was taken care of.
“I had a few offers on the table, just nothing felt right, and I kind of went with my gut, and here I am now,” Scivicque said. “Now that I got this offer, I kind of pondered about it and thought about it a little bit, but I feel like it’s right. I feel like it’s the next step, and I’m excited about it.”
Scivicque said he was a bit surprised when Chewning reached out to him about coaching baseball at FSHS.
“At first it was like the ‘wow’ factor, kind of like, ‘Wow. I can’t make this happen’, and then ‘Is this really happening?’ I started thinking about it, but it was something that I really enjoy being around kids and being around young adults and helping those guys grow and just grinding with them,” he said. “I’m not ready to give it up and be away from baseball, so I do a lot of lessons and do a little bit of coaching and stuff, so of course whenever he had mentioned it, I’m like, ‘Wow. This would be awesome. This would be a great time.’ But then I had to take a step back a little bit and kind of think about it a little bit and kind of think about it like this is a lot of work. I’m keeping my job with H&E (Equipment), but I also want to get after it with these kids and want to give them exactly what they need and everything they want and everything they ask for and give them their best chance to be successful as well as making French Settlement baseball successful.”
It’s the first high school coaching jobs for Scivicque and Poche’, but neither is overly concerned as they’ve been coaching together for the Louisiana Knights 13U team.
“I’m going to be quite honest with you, I haven’t watched a high school game … in a really long time, so I don’t know what they have there (at FSHS), what’s going on or anything like that, but I do know one thing – I’m big about playing the game the right way, respecting the game the right way, hustling on and off the field and giving in your best no matter what the outcome is,” Scivicque said. “I’m all about doing it the right way and being sure that these guys are going to hustle and whenever they step across the white line they’re going to represent French Settlement like they should, and they’re going to represent not only themselves but us as coaches as well.”
Added Poche’, who also played minor league baseball: “We’ve seen a lot of baseball. We’ve been a part of a lot of baseball. Not saying it’s going to be easy of perfect, but we’ve been around baseball long enough to be able to hopefully run a smooth practice and get these guys coming in as freshmen and when they leave as seniors a better baseball player and a better human being as well. We’re excited about this coming season just to see what we’ve got and just to see if me and Kade are any good at coaching.”
Scivicque’s lack of high school coaching experience isn’t a concern for Chewning, either.
“Obviously, his resume’ would speak for itself when it comes to baseball,” Chewning said of Scivicque. “When me and you had talked before, I had talked about wanting someone young and energetic and was familiar with the community and shared a love for a small town and stuff. That was a perfect fit there for me.”
Scivicque said he’s talked with several coaches at multiple levels, but at the end of the day, it’s all about developing players.
“Coaches kind of feel the same,” he said. “It’s just a different level and a different speed as far as it goes because everybody just wants to do it the right way. They want to teach the kids, they want to grow the kids, and at the end of the day, everybody wants to win …”
“… (It’s) just getting out there and pounding the ground balls and taking the swings and making sure that you’re getting quality reps over quantity reps,” Scivicque said. “I guess that’s kind of the stuff that I lived and believed by while I was playing. If you’re going to do it, you do it right. I guess that’s kind of how I’m going to approach it. If the guys are going to do it, I want them to do it right, and I want them to do it full speed. I’m not saying I know right from wrong. I’m not saying I’m going to go in there and win 20 games. I’m not saying I’m going to go in there and win a title, but I want to just go in there and help these guys and give these guys all the knowledge that I have and help them and give them their best chance to be successful doing it the correct way, the right way and 100 percent.”
Poche’, who is LSU’s all-time wins leader with 39, said he’s taken bit from each of his pitching coaches during his career to formulate his own coaching style, and he said he’ll try to emulate current Tigers pitching coach Alan Dunn’s approach to getting pitchers mentally ready for games.
“We’re going to work, we’re going to be ready, but we’re going to be ready for it mentally,” he said. “We’re going to attack the zone. We’re going to compete, and we’re going to control what we can control.”
Another part of Scivicque’s philosophy lies in respecting those who laid the foundation for the FSHS program, something he and Chewning agreed on.
“You don’t want to sell those guys short at all,” Scivicque said. “You want to bust your tail and be the best that you can be and carry on the traditions and the stuff that they have built already.”
Maybe the biggest plus for Scivicque is that he and Poche’ will continue to work together.
“We talk all the time,” he said. “We’re really close. We’re really good friends, and I think, quite frankly, from college ball, we’ve formed a great relationship as far as pitching and catching, so I feel like we put together our minds and everything and the baseball side of it just seems to flow and everything seems to happen.”
“I think we’re both really excited and we both have the same drive, and at the end of the day, we just want to give these kids the best chance they can to be successful,” Scivicque said. “It’s going to be a great time for us. We’re excited about it, and we just can’t wait to get out there.”