Head Coach Al Cantwell
Coach Al Cantwell is beginning his first year as the Head Coach of the Pilots baseball program. Coach Cantwell brings eleven years of coaching experience including the past six years at the helm of the C. E. Byrd High School Yellow Jackets as well as a Health and Physical Education Teacher at the 5-A school in Shreveport. There he compiled the second most wins in the program's history, averaging 22.5 wins per season.
Cantwell played for two seasons at LSU Shreveport under Coach Musgraves in 2001 and 2002 and was an All-GCAC selection for his efforts on the field in his senior season. In two seasons with the Pilots, Cantwell posted a .339 batting average with 23 doubles, 63 RBIs, and an impressive 41 stolen bases in only 47 attempts. His high intensity that fueled him as a player has carried over to his coaching style and he will be an asset in continuing the success that the Pilots have had over the past 14 seasons.
Prior to playing at LSUS, Cantwell played at Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Cantwell received his Bachelor of Science degree from LSU Shreveport with a Major Emphasis in Exercise Science in 2003 and complete his Master of Education with a Major in Exercise Science in 2005, also at LSUS. In 2010 Cantwell received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with a Major Emphasis in Health Education from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana.
In 2012, he guided the Yellow Jackets to a perfect 15-0 record in District 1-5A which was the first undefeated district season in Byrd baseball history and Byrd's second District title with Cantwell as Head Coach. That year he was named the 1-5A District Coach of the Year as he guided the Jackets to yet another State Quarter Finals, matching the playoff run from the year before. The 2010 season for Coach Cantwell yielded his first District Championship and he was named the Shreveport Times Coach of the Year a year after taking his squad to the Semi-Finals in the State Playoffs.
During his tenure at Byrd, Coach Cantwell saw 19 players move on to play college baseball and watched as his former player Peter Pizarro get selected in the 35th round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Most recently, Chris Cotton was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2013 as the 407th overall pick with his name taken off the board in the 14th round. As a former walk on at LSU, Cotton is the current single season saves leader for the Tigers.
The success Coach Cantwell had at Byrd was like no other Head Coach since the 1950s as he was the second longest tenured coach in the history of the baseball program while he posting five consecutive 20+ win season, a first for a Byrd coach since 1958.
This past summer (2013), Coach Cantwell was hired by the Southern Baseball Association in Shreveport to serve as a Head Coach for one of their four select summer teams, serving as well as the Association's Director of Operations. He was responsible for recruiting over 120 high school athletes throughout the Ark-La-Tex. Coach Cantwell organized and was the Chair for the first-ever Southern Baseball Association Showcase which provided an opportunity for some of the top high school players in the area to showcase their talents for twelve college coaches and five professional scouts.
Coach Cantwell has also had success in coaching Collegiate Summer Baseball, having served as the Head Coach for the Kelowna Falcons of the West Coast League in 2011-2012. For two summers, he coached a team which had not experienced a winning season prior to his arrival, setting a franchise record for wins in 2012. He was responsible for recruiting college players from NCAA Divisions I, II, III, NJCAA, and NAIA programs from around the country to fill the roster of a Falcons team which produced a WCL-record seven All-Star Selections.
Coach Cantwell begins his second stint with the Pilots as a coach, having served as Sports Information Director and as an Assistant Coach from 2002-2007 under former Head Coach Rocke Musgraves. During his span as Assistant Coach, the Pilots experienced tremendous success on the field as they claimed a third place finish at the Avista-NAIA World Series in just his second year in 2003, a year in which they also won the Region XIII Tournament Title and the Super Regional, taking two of three games from Embry-Riddle (Fla.). Cantwell assisted Musgraves in guiding the Pilots to two more trips to the Region XIII Tournament Finals as well as their first regular season title as in Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Champions in 2005, followed by the GCAC Tournament Title in 2006.
The success Cantwell experienced while working with Musgraves was undoubtedly a major factor leading to his appointment as an Assistant coach in collegiate summer ball with the Lethbridge Bulls of the Western Major Baseball League in Canada, beginning in 2004. His first position as a Head Coach was at the reins of the Natchitoches Braves in Natchitoches, Louisiana, a summer select baseball team, in 2003.
Coach Cantwell is married to the former Sarah Palmer. They reside in Shreveport and are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Colbi Grace (4) and Pacey Palmer (1).