“There’s so much parity among the teams, especially the ones I know in 5A, that it’s really anybody’s to win.” Scott Nielson, St. Amant softball coach
Each fall football recruiting lists come out with attention-grabbing names like the Dandy Dozen, the Dapper Dozen and The Advocate’s version, the Super Dozen.
The success of the Baton Rouge area’s high school softball teams has spawned a different kind of Super Dozen. As each team goes into the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm State Softball Tournament a key question remains: Can one of the 12 competing at Sulphur’s Frasch Park break a string of five straight years in which a local team has not won a state title?
“I remember when I was in high school the Baton Rouge teams went every year and a lot us won,” Family Christian Academy coach Shelly Cothell said. “That was so much fun to go and watch. And with this year so crazy with the number of local teams we have going to Sulphur, hopefully, we can bring some of that excitement back.”
Action begins at noon Friday with the quarterfinals in all seven classes. Semifinals are set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, with finals following at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Parkview Baptist (26-5) is the top seed in Class 3A, while 5A St. Amant (25-3) and 3A Brusly (28-4) are No. 2 seeds. Class C Maurepas (16-8) is a third seed.
As good as this BR dozen is, it does not equal the landmark year of 1995 when local teams won five of seven state titles. But with five of the eight quarterfinalists in Class 5A, three teams in 1A and two high seeds in both 3A and C, the possibilities for titles are there.
“I think all of us have played tough schedules and done the things we need to do to get ready,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “Now it comes down to which teams are best at noon, 2 p.m., 4 and 6 on Friday and then again on Saturday. There’s so much parity among the teams, especially the ones I know in 5A, that it’s really anybody’s to win.”
Parkview coach Ashlee Ducote agreed. “You’ve got seven of the top eight seeds left in 3A,” Ducote said. “And any one of us is capable of winning. You can’t overlook anyone when you get to this point.”
St. Amant was the last local team to win a title in 2006. The Gators won a string of five straight titles from 2002-2006. This marks the second straight year that the two local districts placed five teams among the eight in 5A. A year ago, Denham Springs (21-10) was the runner-up. The Yellow Jackets upset No. 1 seed West Monroe to advance and are making their 20th tourney appearance.
St. Amant is involved in one of two all-local quarterfinals. The District 5-5A Gators play 4-5A Live Oak (23-6) at 2 p.m. It is LOHS’ first appearance in 5A. Nielson wants his team to forget an early season 10-0 win over Live Oak, saying “They (the Eagles) didn’t play well that day and they’ll be ready.”
The other all-local game is in 1A and matches 6-1A rivals False River Academy (15-15) and Catholic-Pointe Coupee Central (17-11) at noon. The FRA-CHSPC game is one of four noon games involving local teams.
In 5A, No. 22 East Ascension (16-15) takes on defending champion Hahnville at noon. Brusly takes on District 7-3A rival St. Charles Catholic in 3A, No. 7 Family Christian (20-7) meets Calvin at noon in Class C.
Local teams are part of every 5A matchup. At 4 p.m., St. Joseph’s Academy (25-5) meets Barbe. SJA is making its second straight appearance. DSHS takes on Sam Houston at 6 p.m.
Parkview faces North Vermilion it its 3A quarterfinal at 4 p.m. Maurepas, a Class B quarterfinalist last season, takes on Elizabeth in another Class C quarterfinal at 2 p.m. In 1A, ninth-seeded St. John-Plaquemine (22-10) plays top-seeded Opelousas Catholic at 6 p.m.
St. Joseph’s Academy’s Caroline Sagrera and PBS’ Brooklyn Guillot help lead a group of senior local pitchers.
Sagrera, a Spring Hill College signee, has 402 strikeouts on the season. Guillot, an LSU-Eunice signee, has 269 strikeouts.
Family Christian shortstop Megan Smith is hitting .617. East Ascension outfielder Bailey Landry, an LSU commitment, leads all area 5A hitters with a .500 batting average.