Brusly, John Curtis set for softball showdown

Advocate file photo by Travis SpradlingBrusly softball coach Beau Bouvier on his team's 28-game win streak: 'We got on a roll, and we're hoping to keep it going for three more games.'
Advocate file photo by Travis SpradlingBrusly softball coach Beau Bouvier on his team's 28-game win streak: 'We got on a roll, and we're hoping to keep it going for three more games.'

Essentially, they’ve been big-game hunters all season long, so what’s another sizable challenge for Brusly High School’s softball team?

The Lady Panthers have knocked down 24 of their 26 targets ¬≠including 22 in a row — but are afforded the opportunity for their biggest target to date in a nondistrict road game at 4 p.m. Wednesday against reigning Class 2A state champion John Curtis (19-0), which is riding a 50-game win streak.

“We talked about it after our game last week when Curtis was next,” Brusly coach Beau Bouvier said. “We said we had nothing to lose. We can go over there, and if we’re the 51st victim, then we’re the 51st victim.

“It’s about winning and losing, but we want to go over there and play well,” Bouvier said. “If we play well and lose a one-run game, we’ll be disappointed, but we have nothing to lose. We’re going to go out there and try and win another game.”

With one league game left Thursday at Port Allen, Brusly (24-2, 9-0) has already sewn up the District 7-3A title after outscoring its opposition 114-4.

The Lady Panthers also have nondistrict road games next Monday through Wednesday against Teurlings Catholic at UL-Lafayette’s Lamson Park, St. John of Plaquemine and Dutchtown before turning their attention to the Class 3A state playoffs.

The LHSAA unveils its brackets in all seven classifications April 11 with first-round play set for April 16.

“We try and play as much competition as we can find,” Bouvier said. “We’re just getting ready for the playoffs so we can stay sharp, because we know the playoffs are going to be tough.”

Brusly, No. 2 in the LHSAA’s unofficial power ratings to Buckeye, opened the season with a 5-0 victory over St. Amant — the No. 1 team in the Class 5A power ratings — and has recorded wins over Teurlings Catholic (4-1), Live Oak (8-2), Byrd (5-0), Haughton (7-3) and Denham Springs (1-0).

The Lady Panthers dropped two of their first four games of the year, falling to Airline-Bossier City (4-2) and Riverside Academy (11-5), but have not tasted defeated since Feb. 24.

“Our thought process was to make the schedule more challenging and see different teams,” Bouvier said. “We knew our schedule would be tough. We knew we were facing challenges.”

Brusly’s current streak of 22 straight wins started with an 8-7 triumph over Berwick and has featured 14 mercy-rule games and three games decided by one run. The Lady Panthers have also recorded 11 shutouts, including five straight.

Junior pitcher Carli Jo Leblanc has won 17 of 18 decisions to go along with an 0.76 earned run average, 143 strikeouts and nine shutouts in 111 innings.

Brusly’s offense, which averages nine runs and bats .398, has also been formidable with junior center fielder Carlie Comeaux (.542, 31 RBIs) and junior third baseman Lanesha Taylor (.506, 3 HRs, 12 2Bs, 43 RBIs) leading the way.

Sophomore left fielder Akiya Thymes (.500, 41 runs scored) and Leblanc (.407, 3 HRs, 32 RBIs) are also key elements to the offense.

Curtis, the sixth ranked team nationally by MaxPreps.com, won its last 31 games a year ago, and behind the stellar pitching of junior Katie Brignac, have shut out 10 of their 19 opponents this season.

“They never cease to amaze us with what they can do,” Bouvier said of his club. “They believe when it seems like we’re out. All the things we’re doing is letting them know when the playoffs start they have to respond.”