District foes St. Michael, Plaquemine meet in playoffs

Few teams want to face a district rival once the playoffs begin. The fact District 6-4A rivals St. Michael the Archangel and Plaquemine haven’t played in more than a month makes their matchup intriguing.

SMHS (21-11), seeded 10th, hosts No. 23 Plaquemine (14-9) to open the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A baseball playoffs at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Warriors and Green Devils help lead a solid Baton Rouge contingent set to compete Thursday in Classes 4A-C.

“There were a couple of teams we could have drawn,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “The first power rankings we saw had us with St. Augustine, and I knew that wasn’t right. East Jefferson was a team we thought we might play.

“As it turned out, it’s Plaquemine and that’s fine, I think, with both teams. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve played them. Everybody is 0-0 right now.”

Like many coaches, Bernhard had the power rankings figured down to the smallest detail. The SMHS coach said a win by Port Allen on Monday was likely what put Plaquemine in Thursday’s matchup.

“We would have liked to play somebody else,” Plaquemine coach Scott Allen said. “But at this point, we’re happy to be in the playoffs. We know St. Michael is a good team. Neither of us will need a scouting report.”

St. Michael tied No. 2 seed Lutcher for the 6-4A title, with Plaquemine finishing third. The Green Devils were a bit of a surprise team based on a young lineup that typically includes several freshmen. One of three right-handers, Ben Cavalier, Joe Keller or Dalton Brigidia, will get the start against St. Michael.

Julius Maracalin, a top football running back, leads the Green Devils with a .523 batting average that includes five home runs and 27 RBIs.

St. Michael returns five starters from a year ago. The Warriors lost to eventual state champion Teurlings Catholic in the regional round. In 2011, SMHS was the 4A runner-up to Lake Charles-based St. Louis Catholic.

“That game with Teurlings left a bitter taste in our guys mouths,” Bernhard said. “There’s no doubt that Teurlings got hot and went on to win the title. These guys feel like they have something to prove.”

Senior right-hander James Smith gets the start for the Warriors. First baseman Austin Edens (seven home runs, 35 RBIs) and infielder J.T. Mauldin (.385, five HRs, 38 RBIs) are SMHS leaders.

Power-ranking issues

Computer glitches caused a multitude of problems when the LHSAA released its power rankings before finalizing its baseball playoff pairings Tuesday, assistant executive director B.J. Guzzardo said.

Guzzardo said the computer program correctly compiled the power rankings for Class 4A-C early Tuesday morning. However, the information didn’t transfer correctly when it was placed on the LHSAA’s website.

Guzzardo said it took the program’s software company more than three hours to correct that initial problem.

Once the first glitch was corrected and the power rankings were posted a new problem developed. The program was incorrectly factoring in games against out-of-state opponents. Games against out-of-state teams do not count in the power rankings; so the rankings had to be redone yet again.

“It was a mess,” Guzzardo said.

Stapler’s perfect game

Dutchtown High baseball player Cole Stapler tossed a perfect game in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over Ascension Parish rival East Ascension in District 5-5A action.

Stapler (6-1), a Nicholls State signee, struck out 12. He struck out five EAHS players twice. The win makes the Griffins (24-9), 13-1 in 5-5A.

Scotlandville duo to sign

Two Scotlandville baseball players are scheduled to sign with Southern University in a Thursday ceremony at the school.

Infielders Roderick Stewart and Richard Thills are set to sign during a noon ceremony in the school’s library, SHS Athletic Director Latoshia Clay said.