Rosepine’s family-like team looks to win school’s first baseball state title
ROSEPINE, La. (KALB) - For 23 years, Jeff Smith has been a staple of Rosepine baseball but has never coached in a state title game.
“It doesn’t define you for who you are, but sometimes you feel like it will validate what you do in the end,” Rosepine head coach Jeff Smith said. “It sure would be nice.”
That all changes on Friday. Rosepine and Jeff will be in their first state title game in school history. He’ll do it with someone he knows all too well: his best friend.
“We became buddies and have been best friends ever since,” Brad Ducote said.
Brad Ducote and Jeff Smith met in the seventh grade where they played football together at Rosepine and graduated in the Class of 1989. They’d go their separate ways in college but would both come back to coach at their alma mater.
“Why not do it in your hometown,” Ducote said. “This is the place we’ve invested our time and money in. There’s no place that we’d rather be.”
Brad continued to coach with Jeff and eventually became the head football coach at Rosepine in 2018. As years passed, their friendship evolved. They became less like friends and more like brothers.
“The older we’ve gotten, we’ve gotten even closer,” Jeff said. “Things are becoming more important to us. Our priorities are getting a little straighter.”
Their priorities changed even more when they went from best friends to fathers.
“It feels good to know he’s out here every day with me,” Grant Ducote, Brad’s son, said.
Jeff and Brad both had a son: Jake and Grant. They’re best friends too.
“We hang out every weekend,” Grant said. “We’ve been best friends since we were babies. I’ve known him, I’m able to play with him, go to the state championship with him and make memories.”
Jake and Grant’s friendship is much like their dads’, connected at the hip. They even play right next to each other. Jake plays shortstop and Grant plays at third base.
“It’s like they’re my second family,” Jake said. “They’ve always been there. His mom has taken us to games, and we’ve always been close.”
Grant and Jake also have the chance to fulfill their childhood dream of winning a state title, all while doing it with their dads.
“It would mean the world to me,” Grant said. “It’s been a dream since I could think about it.”
“It would be a great experience,” Jake said. “It probably would bring us even closer together to become even more like a family because we already are. It’d be awesome.”
Now, all four of these friends get the chance to round the bases one final time.
“I couldn’t think of a finer coach and mentor for these kids to perform and play for a state championship for,” Brad said.
“I never dreamed that we’d be in this situation, but here we are,” Jeff said. “We’re excited about it.”
The Eagles will face the Doyle Tigers on Friday, May 14 at 10 a.m.
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