OPINION POLL: City of Natchitoches

To make decisions more equitable and keep cost down, the Citizens for Equitable Government is trying to understand the community thoughts on the Rate Increase for the City of Natchitoches.

  • City of Natchitoches

    In order to obtain the best results, please participate ONLY if you vote in the City of Natchitoches.

    The poll will run until 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 30, when the link will no longer be active. The purpose of this poll is to gain insight to your opinion regarding the City of Natchitoches.

    Thank you!

    Paid for by the Citizens for Equitable Government

  • The choice to publish or not rest solely with the Citizens for Equitable Government. This is simply a snapshot-in-time of the opinions of the participants. This is NOT a scientific poll.

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Louisiana HR Professionals Advocate for Workplace Issues in Washington, D.C

Last week, Joe Hamilton, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Human Resources Director, joined fellow HR professionals from various parts of Louisiana in a visit to the U.S. Capitol. This visit was part of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Volunteer Leaders Business Meeting (VLBM) 2023 Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. During this event, participants had the valuable opportunity to interact directly with congressional policymakers and Administration officials.
Sheriff Stuart Wright expressed his enthusiasm for Director Hamilton’s participation in this initiative, highlighting the importance of elevating the voice of HR professionals in influencing decision-makers.
The collaboration with SHRM in engaging with lawmakers on critical issues was seen as a significant step toward addressing key concerns within the HR field.

‘Latino Living’ explores concepts of ‘The American Dream’

By Lia Portillo Cantarero, “Latino Living” Producer

Northwestern State University’s Hispanic Student Journalist Association has released their second episode of “Latino Living’s” second season. The podcast, which is made in cooperation with the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication arts under the guidance of Dr. Nick Taylor, explores the idea of the “American Dream” in their latest episode.  

In this episode, host Naydu Daza Maya of Cartagena, Colombia, and producer Lia Portillo Cantarero of Galliano ask guests and NSU students what the “American Dream” means to them. This episode prompts the question of believing in a notion that has long been a symbol of prosperity for citizens and foreigners alike.  

The guests featured in the episode are Frankie Zoller, a U.S. Army Veteran, and Kimberly Saucedo, a Larose native attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Through their lived experiences, Zoller and Saucedo reflect how the “American Dream” has played a role in their lives and what makes this dream come true.  

“Latino Living” is produced with the help of Taylor, an assistant professor; Portillo Cantarero, producer; Daza Maya, host; Isabel Juarez Rubio of Hicks, assistant producer; Allison Florez Bermudez of Cartagena, editor; and Laura Cabarcas Vargas of Cartagena, technical director. 

The video podcast is available on YouTube and on Spotify.  

Be Cautious of Toxic Compounds in Pasture Grasses and Hay

By Randall Mallette, LSU AgCenter County Agent

With the extreme drought conditions that we have experienced this year, it is important to do your homework on the hay you are feeding or are considering buying and feeding. Stressful growing conditions such as hot, dry weather, or frosty conditions can cause toxic compounds to accumulate in certain forage crops and weeds, possibly creating problems with grazing or feeding hay. 

Nitrate accumulation can be a problem in many of the forage plants we use in cattle production. High fertilization rates, especially when followed by stressful growing conditions, leads to a buildup of nitrates in the plant. There are higher concentrations in the stem and lower 1/3 of the plant than in the leaves. Forages that are prone to causing nitrate problems include Johnsongrass, sorghum, Sudangrass, Sorghum x Sudan hybrids, wheat, corn, pearl millet, crabgrass, ryegrass, and even bermudagrass. These nitrates can lead to nitrate poisoning in cattle when grazed, but also when fed as hay because nitrates do not dissipate out of harvested forage and are stable in storage. Producers who are concerned about nitrates in forage or hay can submit a sample for analysis to a forage lab such as the LSU AgCenter’s Forage Testing Lab. 

Another problem that can be encountered in stressed forages is accumulation of prussic acid (hydrocyanic acid). Johnsongrass and sorghum-sudangrass are the forages most commonly associated with prussic acid poisoning. Similarly to nitrate accumulation, these forages accumulate prussic acid in their stems after stressful weather conditions such as drought or frost. Producers should not graze these stressed forages for several days after a drought ending rain or following a frost. One difference to consider between nitrate accumulation and prussic acid accumulation is that prussic acid dissipates after cutting for hay, while nitrates remain stable.

For more information please contact LSU AgCenter county agent Randall Mallette at 318-357-2224 (Natchitoches), or 318-932-4342 (Red River).

LSMSA invites community to November and December arts events

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) invites the community to join students, faculty, and staff for the following free arts events:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m., LSMSA Recital Hall – An Evening of Voice
  • Thursday, Nov. 30, 4:30-6 p.m., LSMSA Art Gallery – Art Gallery Reception: Undergrowth by Sara Hardin
  • Thursday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., LSMSA High School Building Treen Auditorium – Informal Dance Concert
  • Friday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m., LSMSA High School Building Treen Auditorium – Informal Dance Concert
  • Sunday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m., LSMSA Recital Hall – Music Department Holiday Concert
  • Monday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m., LSMSA Recital Hall – Music Department Holiday Concert

LSMSA, ranked a World’s Best Boarding School by Fortune magazine and whose faculty is ranked #1 statewide and #5 nationwide, is a tuition-free, public high school for high-achieving rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a nominal room and board fee to cover housing, meals, and campus activities. The LSMSA Foundation offers assistance for families in need to ensure no eligible student is denied the school’s 40-year legacy of a premium college-level living/learning experience. For more information about LSMSA’s application process or to apply for the 2024-25 school year, please visithttps://www.lsmsa.edu/apply.

Blessed: Natchitoches Gives Thanks

During the fourth week of November the world seems to slow down for a long weekend filled with family, friends and yes, food! It is always a beautiful pause to a busy year and a time to reflect on what you are truly grateful for. Some may give thanks for having their whole family together for the holiday while others may give thanks when the visiting family leaves. We are all different, but we are all thankful for something.

I spent the last couple of days talking to local community members and community leaders to see what they are most grateful for this Thanksgiving. There was no hesitation when asked to share why they are giving thanks this year.

Billy Joe Harrington, Natchitoches Parish District Attorney
“I am thankful for my family, friends, Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Staff and those that strive for the betterment of our parish.”

Dr. Grant Eloi, Natchitoches Parish School Superintendent
“I am most thankful for my family, but a close second is the hard work and dedication of all the members of our district who are continually making Natchitoches Parish School Board the district our community deserves.”

Ken Hale, BOM Bank President & CEO
“I’m thankful for all the graces God allows me each and every day. I’m the most blessed man ever. I’m thankful for my wife and kids, my health, the support of the community for BOM and all my fellow BOMers. Life’s great and I try to take nothing for granted.”

Tommy Rush, Pastor of First Baptist Church
“I would have to say that I’m most thankful for the undeserved blessing of having a family that taught me about Jesus. I’m extremely grateful for a father and grandfather that lived humble and faithful lives and they poured their lives and faith into my family.”

Katrice Below, Vice President BOM Bank
“I am most thankful for God’s grace.”

Justin Rhodes, Rhodes Properties & Development, LLC
“I am most thankful for Facebook. As stupid as that sounds. I love it. It keeps me connected with friends and family who I can’t see on a regular basis. They see me. I see them. They see my family. I see theirs. It keeps me chasing pictures with my wife and kids. It keeps me chasing the next adventure whether it be catching sharks or cooking pizza. And for that next hashtag.”

#Blessed (the author added this to compliment the above quote)

Michael Gillie, Chef/Owner Bayou Soul
“Health, family and to be alive!!! It’s a blessing to be amongst the living.”

Dustin Dauzat, Director of Development Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce
“I’m grateful for my faith, a dedicated and supportive wife, four wonderful, healthy children, and a job that allows me to make a positive impact on our community.”

Nicole Gray
“For me, Thanksgiving is often a time of reflection on the goodness of God and how far he’s brought me. I’m most thankful for the love of family and friends, who I am blessed to be surrounded by each year.”

Micah Coleman, Principal of Natchitoches Central High School
“I have so much to be thankful for. Psalm 118. I am thankful for a merciful and forgiving God. I am thankful for a city and community that I believe God has chosen for his favor and for the opportunity to work with our children and leaders to make this a God-fearing place. I am also thankful for our board and district leaders who love Natchitoches as much as I do!”

Billy Benefield, Natchitoches Parish School Board President
“I am thankful to live in a country that allows us to worship the Lord in our own way. I am thankful for my wonderful family the many blessings they bring to me. I am thankful for my health and that of my family also. I am thankful to be able to serve on a board that sees the big picture and works together in support of all the children in Natchitoches Parish.

Silivini Esparza, Owner Partner Nicky’s Mexican Restaurant
“This year I am most thankful for God, my family and friends.”

Rebecca Blankenship, Executive Director, Cane River National Heritage Association
“This holiday season I am most thankful for my family and friends- my village, whom I love sharing life with. I am also grateful to call this community home. This year I have witnessed many acts of kindness and extraordinary acts of service by folks who are passionate, selfless, and above all, dedicated to making our communety better. Their actions are a reminder to me that our blessings come in all different sizes and shapes.

Steven Harris, Pastor
“I’m thankful for my vertical relationship. That God would look beyond a multiplicity of faults and see my needs. I am grateful that he would send his only son to save me. I am thankful for my horizontal relationship. I don’t take for granted all of the people that God has placed in my life. My wife, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, In-laws, spiritual family, school board family, friends, and foes. Lastly, I’m thankful for circumference relationship. I thank God for my health, strength, and everything around me.

Angela Lasyone, Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen
“I am most thankful for my family. My sister, Tina and brother-in-law, Dwight. There is only three of us but taking care of each other is of utmost importance. I am thankful for two 13 year old fur babies, Cooper and Abigail. They are great to talk to after a long day! My closest friends who are always there, giving me the added strength that I need to get through the long hard days. I am also thankful for all my employees who work daily to keep Lasyone’s wheels turning to help me continue our tradition for 56 years. And always thankful for all customers because you are the reason that we have been so blessed to continue our legacy for so many years.”

It is no secret that Natchitoches, as a community, has seen it’s fair share of ups and downs and tragedies this year. One might would say it has been a tough one for us. But, one thing remains. Well, several things. People choose to live here for the community and the sense of community. We are all thankful for Natchitoches and it’s people, the many faces that make our town what it is. We are surrounded by people who constantly want to invest in the improvement of our town, our school system, our roads, and our quality of life. I am very thankful for the many amazing people who God chose to reside here.

Prayers for a town are never wasted prayers. Keeping praying for Natchitoches, God has great things in store for us, his people are proof of this.

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you prosper.” – Jeremiah 29:7

Tigers back in quarterfinals, visiting powerful OCS

Freshman running back John Paul Thibodaux has become a key part of the St. Mary’s offense. (Photo by Elizabeth Yopp, St. Mary’s School)

By DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal

MONROE — Each week at this time in the high school football season is about playing your best game.

It is also about hopes to prolong your season and win championships.

That will be no different tonight when the St. Mary’s Tigers travel to Monroe to take on Ouachita Christian in the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Division IV Select playoffs.

It is nothing less than a David versus Goliath matchup as the Tigers look at a major uphill climb to reach the summit and defeat the Eagles. But anything can happen and usually does in the prep football ranks in Louisiana. That is why the games are settled on the field and not on the computer or on social media.

“We are going out there to win a ballgame,” SMS head coach Aaron York said when asked about his team’s monumental task of moving on to the semifinals next week. “OCS is fundamentally very good. They have size and speed. We definitely have to play our best game of the season in order to move on to the semis.”

After earning a first week playoff bye, the Tigers defeated Glenbrook Christian Academy (Minden) in a thriller, 30-27, last week in the second round at Turpin Stadium.

SMS, runner-up in District 3-1A, brings an overall mark of 8-2 on the season into the contest while sitting at the No. 6 seed on the bracket. It will be the second year in a row that the Tigers have reached the quarterfinal round.

The Eagles are the defending state champion and are attempting to defend from the No. 3 seed for the second consecutive year on the bracket. OCS won the state title in 2019 and 2022 and have reached the title game the last four years straight.

The Eagles are 10-1 on the season, champions of District 2-1A and dismantled Westminster Christian 56-7 in last week’s second-round bout. OCS suffered its only loss on the 2023 campaign at the hands of Harding Academy (Arkansas) in Week 7 on October 13.

“Any time you are playing at this time of the year it is very special,” York said. “No matter whether it is high school, college, whatever level, whatever state, it takes hard work to get here. Most kids are doing a lot of other things during the holiday season. We are still playing football and we don’t take this for granted.

“We are just trying to get better as a football program and our goal is to make deep runs in the playoffs every year. That’s what our kids, coaches and everyone works for. Our players are going up there with the attitude that we have prepared for this and let’s get it settled on the field,” he said. “Anything can happen. That is why we play the games. No one will be playing with as much heart and determination as our kids will be playing with.”

The winner of this epic bout gets a date in the semifinal round next week with the winner of No. 2 Southern Lab (Baton Rouge) and No. 10 Central Catholic (Morgan City). The state championship matchup is scheduled for December 7 at the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans.

Jim Spencer may be a trickster, but he’s one heckuva writer

I have this quirky friend up in north Arkansas that you really have to keep your eye on. Here’s what I’m talking about: I was invited once several years ago to fish the Little Red River in Arkansas for trout.

Jim Spencer, Keith Sutton and I shared a boat and although the two of them, both Arkansans, have caught a ton of trout in their lives, I had never caught one. I cast out, felt a tug on my line and hooked into my very first rainbow trout. Thrilled wasn’t an adequate word but I was so happy to finally catch a species of fish I had never caught and I was expressing my glee at finally hooking my first.

Unbeknownst to me, Spencer had slipped up behind me while I was fighting my fish. When I first noticed him, I assumed he was there to help me land the fish if need be. Glancing back, I noticed he had his knife in his hand and a certain gleam in his eye when he reached out, not to help me land my trout but to cut my line.

Somehow, I managed to get the fish in the boat, which was not easy to do while  maneuvering around to keep him from slicing my line. That’s one side of the Jim Spencer I know and I have learned to always keep my eyes open when I’m around him.

The other side I know and appreciate about Jim Spencer is that anything he writes, I get as absorbed in it as I did the day I kept him away from my line. Spencer is to me one of the very best outdoor writers anywhere in the country, especially when it comes to writing about his obsession, wild turkeys. 

Several years ago, Spencer started thinking about all the gobblers he has taken but the equal number that had whipped him. He came up with the idea of producing a book about times where the gobbler had won. He produced a book that would take the turkey hunting world by storm. He named it Bad Birds 1.

Realizing there were more stories to tell, he later put together his second version of the book, naturally naming it Bad Birds 2.

Believing he had covered all the bases in talking about those gobblers that had handed him his rear end, he assumed he was done. However, there were a number of stories he knew he could tell that had yet to be told so he did it again. His latest version of his self-flagellation regarding gobblers has led him to, once again, bare his soul in Bad Birds 3.

I have read all three books and while the first two were classics, I think this last one is the best; he leaves no stone unturned in sharing his disappointment, disgust and downright frustration of the times that gobblers have beat him.

Spencer’s wife, Jill, shares his addiction of hunting turkeys and they travel the country together every spring to play games with gobblers. Jim had Jill, who is also an award-winning outdoor writer herself, to produce the foreword for his latest book. 

“If you run into us somewhere along the trail in some future spring,” Jill writes, “say howdy and tell us some turkey stories. Jim is always willing to talk about these birds he can’t leave alone.”        

Bad Birds 3 sells for $25 plus $6 shipping. Best bet is the package deal featuring all three Bad Birds for $55 delivered. He’ll also add his Turkey Hunting Digest for an extra $12, for a total of $67. Order to Treble Hooks Unlimited, P.O. Box758, Calico Rock, AR 72519.

You talk about a fine Christmas gift for the turkey hunter, this is it. Adding a word of caution, if you are ever privileged to share a fishing boat with Spencer, be sure and keep an eye on him; he could be opening his knife.

Contact Glynn at glynnharris37@gmail.com

NSU calendar for Nov. 26 – Dec. 2

Here is a look at the week of Nov. 26 – Dec. 2 at Northwestern State University. 

Nov. 26 – Jan. 7, 2024 – Registration for Spring 2024 semester available through NSU Connect 

Nov. 27 – University reopens after Thanksgiving holiday 

Nov. 29 – Fall 2023 Robotics Competition and Smart Structures Show, Friedman Student Union Ballroom, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

Nov. 29-30 – Christmas Gala, A.A. Fredericks Auditorium, 7 p.m. $ 

Nov. 30 – ROTC Fall Awards program, NSU Middle Lab Auditorium, 4 p.m.  

Nov. 30 – 15th Annual Multicultural Christmas Concert, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum, 800 Front Street, Natchitoches, 6 p.m.   

Dec. 1 – Christmas Gala, A.A. Fredericks Auditorium, 7 p.m., 9 p.m. $ 

Dec. 2 – American Indian Crafts Day, Williamson Museum, Kyser Hall, Room 208, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

$ – Admission charge to attend for general public 

Track tonight’s scores as they happen here, in real time – LIVE STREAM

Maybe you can’t be at the game tonight. Or you are in the stands, and you want to know how the other schools are doing.

We’ve got you covered, in real time, thanks to the High School Football Scoreboard.

Every local team’s game has the latest updated score for you, available simply by clicking on the Scoreboard graphic. You will see tonight’s menu of games and the current score as reported from the stadium.

It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s available to you from your phone, your laptop or your I-pad. Wherever you are, sitting in the stands at a game or sitting at home, you can get the scores you need right here throughout this high school football season.

(You can also bookmark this link so you can quickly access it all night and every week.)

PODCAST: Newly elected Natchitoches Parish President John Salter shares his vision for the future of Natchitoches Parish

John D. Salter, Parish President Elect

John Salter confirms that he has no plans to return Natchitoches Parish to the Police Jury form of Government, and talks in detail about solving the obvious road condition problems that plague the citizens of Natchitoches Parish. John will make it a priority to return trust and transparency to Parish Government.

Salter won the Runoff Election on November 18, 2023.

Storm track surveyed near Gorum

A team from the Shreveport National Weather Service, Natchitoches Parish Sheriffs Deputies, Natchitoches Office of Emergency Preparedness and Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #1 surveyed storm tracks near Gorum on Nov. 21 following severe thunderstorms on Nov. 20.
NWS collected data to determine if an actual tornado struck the area. The Red Cross was requested to assist these families in need.

Goldonna News: Thanksgiving 2023

Goldonna is simply beautiful in the fall. There is no other way to describe the village this time of year. While the scenery is something to behold, the residents actually add more beauty to the landscape than the colorful leaves and winding roads.

The Village of Goldonna has so much to be thankful for this year. A few of the area residents wanted to share what they are most grateful for.

Pastors Timmy and Pam Harris – Goldonna Assembly of God Church
“We are thankful that God hears and answers prayers…for a healthy family…for our children and grandchildren, our church family, for a healthy town. We are most thankful for John 3:16-18.

Pastor George Procell – River of Life Family Worship Center  “I am thankful for my health, my family, my church family and good hunting weather.”

Mayor Gayle Cloud – “As my first year of holding the office of Mayor of Goldonna is coming to a close, I want to express my gratitude for the outpouring of support that I have received from this community. So many have come together this year to continue to make out village a great place to live. I am truly thankful for the residents of Goldonna and I am looking forward to working alongside each of you for the next three years.”

Pastor Ben Dupree and Kristin Dupree – Goldonna Baptist Church “We are thankful for our loving, giving families, both blood and church. For the opportunity to serve our wonderful community, most of all for the all ecompassing blood of our savior, Jesus Christ. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Jade Burke – “I am grateful for family, friends, and God’s grace.”

Miranda Bates – “I am thankful for my girls and my husband and my best friend, Jade!”

On a personal note, I am most thankful and grateful for the lifelong friends I have made in the Goldonna community. If you hang around long enough you will feel the same way too. Even though I have been long gone, I am still treated as if I never left.

If you have news to share please email Reba Phelps at jreba.phelps@gmail.com

Aunt Ethel’s Go-To Holiday Diet Plan

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrote this in 2010 to help get you and me and our digestive systems through the holidays safely. The Worldwide Chocolate Shortage predicted back then did not, thank goodness, come to pass. So … pass the chocolate.)

These are the times that try men’s … colons?

Even the most casual eater, wandering aimlessly through The Land of the Leftover, has got to be heads-up in these post-Thanksgiving days. Cheese dip here. Sausage ball there. Week-old giblets, ripe for the taking. 

Food jitters.

For some reason, we are robotically drawn to seasonal foods, even though there are plenty of holiday experiences available that should cause us to lose our appetites. If you can’t relate, then you’ve never been hugged right before a holiday meal by a great aunt. With a goatee. Who’s dipping snuff. 

Welcome to my world.

(I have a friend who once lost 15 pounds during December. She didn’t mean to. But right before one Thanksgiving dinner, her uncle said to her, table-side, “Honey, I wonder why God took all the hair off my head and put it on my back?” She was able to eat solid food again, but not until somewhere around Valentine’s Day.)

Another dietary issue this time of year: stadium food. Close to Football Bowl season. Pressure’s on. So we eat either to relieve the stress of a stretch run or to keep from being bored stiff because our team IS a stiff.  I have yet another friend who shared with me his digestive system misgivings after Saturday’s joyous time in a football stadium occupied by a team that’s more up and down than a prairie dog. “My most painful lesson from the weekend,” he said, “was that pre-prandial and post-prandial reflections on a stadium corn dog are two very different realities.”

Prandial means “of or relating to a meal.” It’s from the rural Latin “prandium,” meaning, “I should not have ate that.” As you have surmised, to use those kinds of high-dollar words, my friend is pretty smart – but not smart enough to call time out in the corn dog line. You do not toy with a mass-produced corn dog in a competitive atmosphere far, far from your home locker room. You don’t do it.

Let this be a lesson to us all: your digestive system doesn’t know you have a high IQ. Faulty plumbing due to pilot error puts us all — the prince and the pauper, the duke (excuse my French) and the serf — right there on the same page.

The corn dog on a stick I ate was more than just inviting.
Too bad I didn’t think that later it would do the biting.
       1. From Fourth and Long, a work in progress 

Food jits.

If our own lack of self-control and the overpowering temptations of the season weren’t enough, the food world and Mother Nature herself might be conspiring against us. My own personal mother, of all people, alerted me to this tragedy.

The Nature Conservation Research Council, which sounds like an important thing, forecasts a chocolate shortage. Because African farmers are ditching their cocoa farms for other easier-to-grow crops, chocolate might either disappear or increase drastically in price. This means that in 20 years, a Baby Ruth could well be out of my price range. My mother’s grandchildren call her “Sweeter,” so you can imagine how this is affecting my family. Let’s hold hands and …

Chocolate Lamentations

No Twix? No Bliss? No Hershey’s Kiss,
No chocolate dip fondue?
The question we must pray is
“What would Willie Wonka do?”

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

Chiefs blow out Lions in City of Lights finale

Journal photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN

Logan Smith scored 31 points Tuesday night for Natchitoches Central as the Chiefs’ basketball team blasted visiting Ouachita 78-55 in the last game of this year’s City of Lights Tournament hosted by NCHS.

Smith hit 12 of 17 shots, including 4 of 9 on 3-pointers, to lead four NCHS players scoring in double figures. He also made 5 steals.

Jaden Braden scored 15 points and distributed 12 assists for the Chiefs. Jacorien Beard added 14 points and grabbed a team-best 9 rebounds, while Harold Remo pitched in with 10 points.

NCHS took command by outscoring Ouachita 25-8 in the second quarter to go up 36-17 at halftime. The Chiefs outrebounded the Lions 28-18.

Tournament sponsors were the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the City of Natchitoches and Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr., State Farm Insurance agent Jim Pledger, and the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The NCHS boys and girls don’t play again until next Wednesday at Grant. The boys are next at home on Nov. 30.

Demons add seven to start early signing period

The Northwestern State baseball family grew by seven at the outset of the early signing period.

First-year head coach Chris Bertrand announced the addition of seven players in the NSU signing class of 2024 Monday.

Joining the NSU program are catchers Austin Ellis and Mason Wray, right-handed pitchers Trent Hillen and Kaden McCoy, and infielders Hudson Brignac, Cooper McEnroe and Zach White.

“We are excited about building upon the work we did this summer to put together our current roster,” Bertrand said. “When you look at the hard work our staff put in to build the roster and the ability to take this class and add on to it, we are continuing to stack bricks, and we feel the future is in really good hands.”

Hudson Brignac, MIF, 5-7, 150, R/R, Benton, La. (Benton HS)

High School: Three-year letterman for coaches JD Stephens’ and Dane Peavy’s Tigers … helped lead the Benton to three straight District 1-5A championships … earned first-team all-district honors as a junior … honorable mention all-district pick as a sophomore … has helped Benton post a 68-36-2 mark in his three seasons … member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club … has a 3.6 GPA.

Bertrand on Brignac: “Hudson really caught our eye at camp with the way he defended and the arm strength he showed across the diamond. We really think he has a chance to be an elite-level defender, and as his career blossoms, we’ll see where we can take the offense. We’re really excited about adding depth to the middle infield as we graduate some of the older guys who have held those spots down.”

Austin Ellis, C, 5-10, 220, R/R, Saratoga Springs, Utah (Mountain Ridge HS)

High School: Two-year letterman for coach Brock Whitney’s Sentinels … earned first-team all-state and all-region honors as a junior, hitting .389 with a .610 on-base percentage … named first-team all-region as a freshman, batting .419 with a .678 on-base percentage … helped Mountain Ridge reach the playoffs each season, including a 21-10 mark and a semifinal berth in his junior season … four-year hockey letterman has started every game since his freshman season and helped Mountain Ridge win the Class 6A state title … honor roll student has a 3.98 GPA and is an Academic All-State selection … member of the school senate and has overview of athletics.

Assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Dylan Belanger on Ellis: “Big, physical, strong catcher who has pull-side pop. He can fill the role of Bo Willis when he graduates. He is originally from Dallas, which is how we got to know him.”

Trent Hillen, RHP, 6-3, 220, R/R, Morgan City, La. (Central Catholic HS/Jones College)

Prior to NSU: Spent two seasons at Nicholls, redshirting in 2022 … made three appearances for the 2023 Southland Conference regular-season and tournament champions … pitched in the summer for the Acadiana Cane Cutters of the Texas Collegiate League and earned one TCL Pitcher of the Week honor … Dean’s List student has a 3.5 GPA.

High School: Four-year letterman for the Eagles … first-team all-district and all-state as a senior, going 8-1 on the mound with 96 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA … was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 34 strikeouts before the COVID-19 pandemic ended his junior season … first-team all-district and all-state as a sophomore, going 6-3 with 72 strikeouts and a 2.28 ERA … helped Central Catholic win three district titles and reach the state semifinals as a sophomore … three-time Academic All-State selection … two-year football letterman … helped Central Catholic to a 13-7 record and a pair of playoff berths across two seasons … graduated with a 3.8 GPA.

Belanger on Hillen: “Trent is a big, 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander. He has a chance to be a front-end starter the minute he walks on campus. He pitched for (NSU graduate manager) Joe (Craighead) last summer, and he’ll pitch again for him this summer with the Acadiana Cane Cutters.”

Kaden McCoy, RHP, 5-9, 160, L/R, Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)

High School: Three-year letterman for coaches Eric Matthews’ and Jeremy O’Neill’s Eagles … named first-team all-district as a utility player as a junior … helped lead the Eagles to the second round of the playoffs as a junior … earned second-team all-district honors at third base as a sophomore.

Belanger on McCoy: “He was a kid who came to our camps multiple times. He has some family in the area and really, really wanted to be a Demon. He has a chance to pitch out of the bullpen as soon as he gets on campus. He’s got a three-pitch mix with a good fastball.”

Cooper McEnroe, 3B, 6-1, 210, R/R, Klein, Texas (Cain HS)

High School: Three-year letterman for coaches Neil Wisener and David Miller’s Hurricanes … second-team all-district selection as a junior … unanimous choice as a first-team all-district utility player as a sophomore … earned underclassman MVP honors as a freshman … helped Cain reach the UIL playoffs as a sophomore … academic all-district selection has a 4.6 GPA.

Bertrand on McEnroe: “He’s the type of guy who catches your eye the first time you see him play, which is what happened in our case. He plays for a quality high school and for Hunter Pence Baseball, where we have had a lot of success. From the first time I watched him play, what sticks out is how hard he plays. He’s our type of player. He’s a hard-working, blue-collar, grinding kind of kid. We think he can hold down both corner infield spots and has a tremendous amount of potential with the bat.”

Zach White, MIF, 5-8, 160, S/R, Baytown, Texas (Robert E. Lee HS)

High School: Four-year letterman for coach David Schmidt’s Ganders … earned first-team all-district honors at second base as a junior … has a 3.7 GPA.

Bertrand on White: “We really got a relationship going with Zach later in the summer. He made a decision to reopen his recruitment process, and we got involved then. He’s a switch-hitting middle infielder, which adds an element to it as we attempt to add more left-handed hitters. He has an overall game that says he can compete to make an impact early in his time on campus.”

Mason Wray, C, 6-0, 185, R/R, Melbourne, Australia (Christian Brothers/Cochise CC)

Prior to NSU: Played for the Kansas Cannons of the Jayhawk League in the summer of 2023 … spent the 2023 season at Colorado-Mesa.

High School: Played for the Newport Baseball Club, coached by David Asp … was the Division II Summer League runner-up.

Bertrand on Wray: “Mason is a junior college catcher from Australia who comes to us by way of Cochise Community College. We really enjoyed getting to know him. He’s a very high-character individual, somebody we’re really looking forward to making an impact not only in baseball, but also as a leader in our clubhouse and locker room. He’s someone we think has the potential to compete for a job right away because he has a well-rounded game defensively and with a bat in his hand.”