Catholic High’s Brad Bass named National Coach of the Year after guiding Bears to National Title

by: William Weathers // Contributor

Featured Image Photo Courtesy of Romaguera Photography

During the infancy stages of his baseball coaching career, Brad Bass wondered in silence whether he would ever build a program at Class 1A False River Academy in New Roads worthy of statewide acclaim.

His answer would come some two decades later on the state’s highest stage where Bass coached Catholic High of Baton Rouge to its sixth state championship in school history. The Bears culminated a memorable journey on May 11 with a 5-0 victory over John Curtis in the Division I state select title game.

Catholic High (38-2) won its final 20 games and Bass was selected the state’s Coach of the Year in Class 5A. He went a step further this week, after his team was named national champions by two publications, when he received National Coach of the Year honors from MaxPreps, the National High School Baseball Coaches (Baseball America) and Prep Baseball.

“All I could think about was to be able to win a coach of the year, and how that respect amongst your peers would be the ultimate gratification,” Bass said. “I could have never imagined it would go this far. This is such an incredible honor, and this is an everyone award.”

Bass commended his coaching staff of Michael Billings, Tyler Naquin and Jake Clouatre, his players for completing the school’s most successful season, the team’s parents and his wife Annie Claire.

“Everybody gets on the same page and makes something like this happen,” Bass said. “Any little blip in the armor gets exposed, especially when things get hard. Only through hard things do we grow as individuals. The strength of schedule the last three years has really made us grow and think outside the box, and really believe that we had a shot to accomplish this. I’m elated, humbled and honored. It’s just really cool.”

Catholic won its first 17 games before losing 4-3 to Winter Park, Florida in an out-of-state tournament, the sixth game in a grueling week. The Bears, who rose to No. 1 in the MaxPreps rankings, suffered a 4-1 loss at Mandeville on March 20 and navigated the next two months of the season, over 51 days, with 20 consecutive victories that pitcher William Schmidt capped with a 1-hit, 9-strikeout performance in the state title game.

Schmidt, an LSU signee who’s expected to be a first-round draft choice in this month’s draft, was selected to MaxPrep’s first team All-America squad. He was also the Class 5A Outstanding Player and Gatorade Player of the Year.

Schmidt was one of five players named to the all-state first team and Bass was the state’s coach of the year.

Photo Courtesy of GeauxPreps / MaxPreps Photographer Michael Odendahl

Moreover, a total of nine players, led by Schmidt, have either signed college scholarships or committed to do so in 2025. Signees include center fielder Brooks Wright (UL-Lafayette), Dobson (Houston), pitcher Grant Breaux (UL-Lafayette), pitcher Ryder Loup (Loyola-New Orleans) and outfielder/pitcher Wyatt Chenvert (Nicholls). The group of committed players features shortstop Jack Ruckert (LSU), left fielder Noah Lewis (UL-Lafayette) along with catcher Andrew Clapinksi and right fielder Davis Emonet, both of LSU Eunice.

“Sometimes a welcomed bit of adversity helps propel you,” Bass said. “Only by doing hard things can you figure out who you are. We had our chances to win that (Mandeville) game. (Houston signee) Trip Dobson pitched unbelievably that game, but (Mandeville pitcher) Aidan Grab beat us for the second time in two years. That was a come together moment and our guys decided which side of the rope they were on, and they got on the right side. It was unbelievable.”

Bass, a catcher at LSU in 2004-05, credited his father Bennett for always fostering strong family values in his childhood home. That became the basis for an acronym, F-A-M-I-L-Y, that’s woven into the fabric of the program to mean: Forget About Me, I Love You.

“He’s a family-oriented guy and it was family first,” Bass said of his father. “That’s something I took with me into coaching. That’s something we talk about every day. Family’s a staple of our program.

Photo Courtesy of @CHSBRAthletics on X

“I’ve come across a lot of great guys along the way,” Bass said. “Chad Olinde at Clairborne Christian is someone I really admire. He’s the guy that made the call to get me to go to LSU as a player. He’s the same guy that connected me with (former Catholic High coach) Kyle Achord. Working under him as an assistant really showed how technical you could be, but also the level of accountability that you could hold people to, and that these kids would meet that challenge.”

Bass said the genesis of this year’s run to a national championship began with a conversation three years ago amongst the coaching staff at a restaurant in Baton Rouge. They wanted to take the Bears on the road to play against a national-caliber schedule, and with the anticipation of a talented group of players arriving over that span, it seemed like a recipe for success.

Catholic has won 90% of its games since 2022 with a record of 105-12 with a pair of state championships and state semifinal appearance. The Bears were 6-0 this season against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally at the time of their meeting, and five other wins (West Monroe, Teurlings Catholic and Farragut, Tenn.) were against eventual state champions.

“To be able to be named national champions in two different publications, it’s really real,” Bass said. “It’s not a biased thing. I’m just so proud of what we were able to accomplish.”