Less than two days after it looked like Zachary High wouldn’t be in the baseball playoffs, the Broncos find themselves near the top of the Class 5A world.
District 4-5A champion Zachary (26-7) garnered a No. 2 playoff seed when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association released its 5A playoff pairings on Sunday. Only Lake Charles-based Barbe is rated higher.
The Broncos are scheduled to host No. 31 Mandeville in a first-round game set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Zachary Youth Park. Zachary is one of eight local 5A teams to make the playoffs.
ZHS was originally banned from the playoffs following a March 17 fight that led to a sportsmanship hearing. The LHSAA’s executive committee voted via conference call late Friday afternoon to reduce the penalties, which put the Broncos in the playoffs.
“This whole thing has been like being on a roller coaster,” Zachary coach Jesse Cassard said. “First, we were out, and then we had the first appeal and we were out again.
“Our kids are very excited about this opportunity, and they are grateful. This experience has changed us. They’re looking forward to competing and displaying the best sportsmanship.”
While the ZHS players will get to participate in the playoffs, Cassard will not. The committee voted to suspend the Zachary head coach for five games, which effectively ends his season based on its five-game playoff system. Should Zachary not advance to the 5A final, Cassard will have to serve the rest of his suspension next spring. ZHS assistant Greg Williams will serve as acting head coach.
District 5-5A champion Dutchtown (25-9) was the only other local team seeded in the top 10. The No. 9 Griffins host another local team, No. 24 Live Oak (20-10) of 4-5A, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
There is one other all-local 5A matchup. St. Amant (19-15) of 5-5A, seeded 22nd, travels to North Park to take on No. 11 Denham Springs (23-11) of 4-5A at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“I think you’ve got a group of very good teams that are all in the same range,” Dutchtown coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “We’ve all got 25 to 30 wins and six to 10 or 11 losses. There are some good pitching arms out there, too.”
Other 5A matchups involving local teams are No. 17 Catholic High (22-12) at No. 16 Sulphur at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, No. 26 Walker (19-14) at Fontainebleau at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and No. 30 East Ascension (17-17) at No. 3 Sam Houston at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Other games set
Baton Rouge’s other three teams seeded in the top two are scheduled to play regional games on either Monday or Tuesday.
Top-seeded Family Christian (20-8) of Class C opens its playoffs by hosting No. 16 Starks for a regional game at 4 p.m. Monday.
Also in Class C, No. 2 Maurepas (16-8) hosts No. 15 St. Joseph’s-Plaucheville at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Also set to play Tuesday is top-seeded Parkview Baptist (26-6). The Eagles host Jennings at 6 p.m.
Two Class 2A regional games are also Tuesday — Kinder at Runnels (17-13) at 4:30 p.m. and The Dunham School (23-7) at Springfield at 6 p.m.
Also, St. John of Plaquemine hosts Central Catholic-Morgan City at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Class 4A St. Michael (20-13) is among the teams scheduled to play Wednesday.
The Warriors travel to Lafayette to play Teurlings Catholic at 4:30 p.m. Also in 4A, Lutcher (20-9-1) is tentatively set to host Tioga at 4 p.m.
Defending Class 3A champion Livonia (26-3) hosts former district rival Brusly (20-12) at 4:30 p.m. In Class 4A, University (17-14) travels to Catholic-New Iberia for a 4 p.m. Wednesday game.