Lafayette High School baseball coach Sam Taulli said Saturday’s 12-3 District 3-5A victory over Carencro was a good indicator his team was locked in and ready to play.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lions showed in tighter-than-expected wins over Comeaux (5-1) and New Iberia (10-9) the potential danger when their attention deviates from the task at hand.
With his team sharing the league’s lead, Taulli is hopeful Lafayette’s focus will be squarely on Sam Houston (17-6, 2-1) when the Lions (15-4, 3-0) host the Broncos at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a tough week when you’re playing a team inside the (power ratings) Top 10,” Taulli said. “If our guys look too far ahead, we lose focus of what’s important right now. The big thing that’s important right now is playing a good Sam Houston team and being focused from the beginning to the end. That’s been one of the problems we’ve had until Saturday.”
While Lafayette looks to stay even with Sulphur (21-0, 3-0) atop the 3-5A standings, Eunice has its sights set on a share of the District 4-4A lead when the Bobcats (11-7, 3-1) travel to league-leading Crowley (14-2, 4-0) at Miller’s Stadium at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s a big week, but luckily it’s something we’re accustomed to since I’ve been here and that’s to play in big games,” Eunice coach Scott Phillips said. “Hopefully we can step up, and the Eunice-Crowley matchup is always a dogfight. You can throw the records out in any sport. It’s a good matchup for us.”
Lafayette, which is riding a five-game win streak, stands just above Sam Houston in the unofficial power ratings at No. 6, compared to the Broncos’ No. 7.
LHS overcame some its own miscues and withstood a determined effort from New Iberia to escape with a 10-9 run before turning in a more complete performance in a 12-3 verdict over Carencro.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the New Iberia game,” Taulli said. “The kids didn’t come out ready. They messed up. I messed up. It was contagious. I think we all couldn’t focus on what we were doing, and finally we got it together at the end and saved it. You can’t do that against Barbe and Sam Houston, Sulphur and Acadiana. They’ll make you pay for it.”
Taulli said Sam Houston returns the bulk of its team from a year ago, including two to three pitchers his team had to deal with a year ago.
The Lions will start Bo Hardin (5-1), who was the winning pitcher against New Iberia in a relief effort.
“They have a lot of kids back and are well coached,” Taulli said. “They’re athletic and swing the bats well. We know they’ll be pretty salty. They’ll get off the bus and be ready to play, and we better be ready.”
Eunice has recovered from a 6-6 showing after 12 games to win five of its lpast six games, including a 3-2 decision over Rayne.
“Our record could very well be a lot better off with a play here and a play there,” Phillips said. “We’re starting a freshman and three sophomores, depending on that day’s (starting pitcher). We’ve got a young team that’s had its share of growing pains.”
Left-handed pitcher Christian LeJeune (3-2, 2.70 ERA) gets the start for Eunice which has four players batting over .340.
Junior outfielder Wes Hebert (.363, 4 HRs, 22 RBIs) leads the Bobcats along with sophomore catcher Gunner Fontenot (.347, 1 HR, 8 RBIs), senior first baseman Alex Sonnier (.346) and senior designated hitter Jordan Comeaux (.342, HR).
“Crowley’s very good, they’re cruising through it,” Phillips said. “I think they’re the most complete team in our district. They’re well coached, and for us to be able to beat them we’ll have to play our best game.”