Four teams in three classifications go into Monday’s baseball playoffs sharing a common mantra. Class 5A Covington High and 4A Lutcher High, along with 3A Brusly High and Parkview Baptist, all seek one more win to get into Louisiana High School Athletic Association state tournaments.
“I think the last time Lutcher made it to the semifinals there wasn’t a tournament; teams were still playing home-and-home through the playoffs,” LHS coach Davy Clement said. “I know we haven’t gone to the semifinals since I’ve been here, and I believe that’s 8½ years. So a game like this is really big for us.”
Second-seeded Lutcher (26-4) hosts No. 7 DeRidder (28-7) in a 4A quarterfinal set for 4 p.m. A berth at the LHSAA tourney in Sulphur is at stake.
The other three teams travel and also will play southwest Louisiana opponents. Covington (26-6), a No. 16 seed, travels to Lake Charles to play top-seeded Barbe (32-3), the defending 5A champion at 6 p.m. in regional action with a berth to the 5A tourney at Tulane on the line.
Fifth-seeded PBS and No. 6 Brusly also play at 6. Parkview (17-17) plays at No. 4 Iowa (21-10), while Brusly (25-7) goes to Crowley to take on No. 3 Notre Dame (20-12) at Miller Field. The 3A winners also advance to Sulphur.
DeRIDDER AT LUTCHER: LSU signee Jared Poche (9-0) is scheduled to start for Lutcher. Tulane signee Corey Merrill also may pitch for the Bulldogs. DeRidder is led by pitcher-shortstop Joe Mike Baldwin and infielder Vinny Venturella.
The Dragons beat Lutcher’s District 6-4A rival St. Michael the Archangel in the regional round to advance.
“We’re excited about having a game like this at home where we know we’ll get a lot of support,” Clement said. “DeRidder has a couple of good pitchers who don’t give up a lot of runs, which always gives you a chance to win. They’re a team that battles and competes.”
Outfielder-first baseman Zachary Zimmer leads LHS with a .425 batting average. Poche (.423) and outfielder Sully Martin (.415) are other leaders for the Bulldogs.
COVINGTON AT BARBE: The Lions of coach Jeff Dragg won a district title for the first time since 1997 and garnered their first playoff win since 2003 last week. Another win would put Covington in the 5A tourney for the first time since 2000.
“We set some goals in the preseason, and getting to the state tournament was one of them,” Dragg said. “I haven’t talked much about our opponents the last couple of weeks. They (CHS players) know about Barbe.
“No one gives us a chance, so there’s no pressure on us. We need to go in there relaxed and just play. Barbe is a team that likes to bunt and put pressure on you, much like Zachary or Dutchtown. If we can make plays defensively, we can give ourselves the best chance.”
Left-hander John Schaffer (9-3) or right-hander Tyler Thompson (6-3) will get the start. Second baseman Bryce Laird (.353), left fielder Tyler Smith (.343) and Schaffer (.320) are top hitters for the Lions.
Barbe has won 10 straight and is led by shortstop Kennon Fontenot, first baseman-pitcher Sloan Dieter and left fielder Beau Jordan.
BRUSLY AT NOTRE DAME: The Panthers of coach Tait Dupont were the Class 3A runner-up to the Pioneers in 2010.
“We believe playing in our district with E.D. White and St. Charles and the other teams we played in nondistrict have helped prepare us,” Dupont said. “Notre Dame is one of those teams that likes to bunt, hit-and-run and pressure you. If we handle things well in the field and get some timely hits, we’ll be OK.”
Leadoff hitter Kwanston Adkins, a center fielder, leads the Panthers with a .443 average that includes 11 doubles, six home runs and 46 runs scored.
Right-hander Taylor Prejean (9-1) or left-hander Luke LeBlanc (9-0) will get the start. Taylor Prejean (.400) and his twin brother Cullen (.368) are other offensive leaders.
PARKVIEW AT IOWA: PBS was the 3A runner-up to Livonia in 2011. The Eagles took their share of lumps playing a nondistrict schedule that consisted of 5A opponents. Like Brusly’s Dupont, Parkview coach Darron Mitchell hopes the move pays dividends.
PBS, one of the traditional 3A powers, has embraced a lower-key role.
“There have been times when we haven’t played well and there have been other times when we have, “ Mitchell said. “Iowa is good. Their best pitcher (Gabe Roberts) is going to LSU-Eunice and was all-state last year.
“It’s a year when people think we can’t do it, but I like the way we’ve played in the playoffs so far. We need to do that again tomorrow.”
The Eagles will start Zack Hamilton (9-2), one of their three LSUE signees. Hamilton is hitting .371. Shortstop Brennan Bozeman (.390, LSUE signee), first baseman Cody Daigle (.370) and left fielder Hezekiah Randolph (.369, UNO signee) lead PBS.
Roberts and pitcher-infielders Austin Theriot and Justin Demary help lead Iowa.