Spotlight On France’s Stateside Seniors

Fourth year students in U.S. colleges and universities are called seniors, and “senior year,” as those last two semesters before graduation are known, is a big deal. It’s a time of major transition. A last hurrah before friends and classmates head their separate ways into the great unknown of jobs, careers or whatever other opportunities await.

For student athletes, that final year comes with extra significance. It’s the culminating moment of a lifetime of training and hard work, and for most, the last chance to play their respective sport at such a high level of competition and intensity.

That’s why, with the university baseball and softball seasons just now getting under way in the United States, Le Baseblog wants to turn our attention to a pair of French players — both of them seniors — who will soon be bidding adieu to their respective schools.

Before they do, expect these two stars to leave it all on the table in the coming months as they seek to put a final exclamation point on what have already been remarkable collegiate careers.

Frédéric Walter

“That is drilled, left-center field. Going back. Going back. Going back! IT’S OVER! A game winning home run. FRED WALTER!”

That was the ecstatic play call that made the rounds on social media last May after Frédéric Walter of Oklahoma City University (OCU) in Oklahoma gave his team a walk-off win in the 13th inning of an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) tournament game against Benedictine College.

“He feels good,” the Varsity Sports Network announcer, unable to contain his emotions, went on to say. “He’s from France. It works for him.”

Playing for the OCU Stars really does seem to work the nearly 24-year-old French player, who got his start with the Cougars club of Montigny-le-Bretonneux, outside of Paris, before honing his skills with the Montpellier Barracudas and in the Pôle France baseball academy, in Toulouse.

After graduating from the Pôle, Walter earned an opportunity to attend Seminole State College, a two-year school in Florida. Making the move from a community college to a four-year school is no easy task, but in 2019, the power-hitting infielder did just that, signing with OCU, where he immediately made his presence felt.

Walter put up big numbers in 2021 (Credit: OCU Sports)

In 2020, Walter hit an impressive .338 before the COVID pandemic cut the season short. Awarded an extra year of eligibility, he returned for the 2021 season still technically a junior (third-year student) and picked up where he left off, collecting 51 hits in 180 at bats, nine of them home runs. He also had 42 RBIs for the OCU Stars, who finished with a 36-19 record.

All of that set the stage for this, the French player’s final collegiate season, which began last Tuesday, Feb. 1, with a 9-3 win over Tabor College (Kansas). And once again, Walter made his mark, collecting two hits on the day, including a solo home run in the fourth inning.

Next up for the Stars is a doubleheader this Tuesday (Feb. 8) against Southwestern College, also in Kansas, and Le Baseblog, for one, can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Mélissa Mayeux

France’s other star senior, Mélissa Mayeux of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (UL), needs no introduction.

Mayeux has one last chance give it all in the NCAA (Credit: UL Athletics)

The 23-year-old has been making headlines since Major League Baseball (MLB) took the unprecedented step, in 2015, of adding her to its International Registration List. Mayeux was just 16 at the time.

A true pioneer, she later became the first female player to compete in France’s D1 baseball league, playing for both the Montpellier Barracudas and for her hometown club, the Montigny Cougars.

And yet, for all her notoriety and natural skill, Mayeux had to fight hard for her opportunity to play in the United States, especially since doing so meant transitioning from baseball to softball, a sport she essentially had to learn in real time.

The Ragin’ Cajuns hope to repeat as Sun Belt champs

Learn she did, though, and over the course of two seasons at Miami Dade College, in Florida, the young French woman excelled, batting .377 in 2018 and .431 the following year. In both instances she earned all-conference honors.

That then led her to the UL Ragin’ Cajuns, in the NCAA D1, the highest level in U.S. collegiate sports. And in both the COVID-shorted 2020 season and again last year, Mayeux was a major contributor. In 2021 she appeared in 50 games for the Sunbelt Conference champs, collecting 25 hits, with four home runs and 26 RBIs.

Like Fred Walter, Mayeux was given an extra year of eligibility due to the early suspension of the 2020 season, allowing her to return this year for one last run with the Ragin’ Cajuns, who went 47-12 last year are considered to be one of the top 25 teams in the country.

Mayeux and her teammates haven’t taken the field yet, but will starting Friday, Feb. 11, at home, in a doubleheader against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. They’ll play again the next day, with games against North Texas and Texas Southern, followed by a Sunday showdown (Feb. 13) with Tulsa.

Geaux Cajuns!

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