CECILIA — The Cecilia baseball team has been racking up the victories.
The Bulldogs won five straight and 10 out of their previous 11 games. That stretch includes nearly the entire first half of the District 5-4A slate, with victories over St. Martin Parish rivals Breaux Bridge and St. Martinville to name a few.
The one blemish during that stretch was a 12-0 loss to Tuerlings Catholic on March 24. Cecilia will have a chance to avenge that district-opening loss and make a serious push for a district championship this week as the team hosts two of the state’s perennial powerhouses.
Cecilia (15-3, 4-1 in District 5-4A) welcomes two-time defending state champion St. Thomas More on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and gets another crack at Tuerlings Catholic on Thursday at 4 p.m.
“It’s a big week for us,” Cecilia coach Jamie Calais said. “I just think mentally and physically, we are prepared. It just boils down to us making sure we are going to have throw strikes, we are going to limit errors on defense, and we have to put the ball in play.”
The team’s approach this week is to treat it is any other and is proving that by sticking to its regular scheduled rotation. Cecilia’s No. 3 pitcher, junior Sonny Angelle (3-0, 1.10 ERA, 20 Ks), will take the mound Tuesday, and No. 4 senior pitcher Damian Runkle (1-1, 2.71 ERA, 13 Ks) will pitch Thursday.
“We just can’t be intimated by the big teams anymore,” said senior Randy Guidry, who is batting .351 and 18 RBIs this season.
The team admitted to doing just that in the first meeting with Teurlings.
Playing on the road against a powerhouse that has won five state championships, including its most recent in 2012, had an impact on the Bulldogs, who played tight throughout the game. The loss stands as Cecilia’s most lopsided defeat of the season.
“I think maybe our kids got a little bit of stage fright,” Calais said. “They were very nervous. We had too many walks, and once we fell behind, it took us out of our game.”
“Earlier in the season, we didn’t play a lot of big games,” senior Jordan Landry said. “I think in that game, we cracked under the pressure, but it will be different this time around. We know what to expect.”
Cecilia has far larger goals than to simply beat teams like Teurlings and STM.
The Bulldogs are looking to earn a postseason berth for the first time in two years, and the program’s first playoff victory since 2010 when the team defeated Lutcher 5-2 in the opening round. In the two playoff appearances since then, Cecilia has lost in the first round to Tioga and West Ouachita by the combined score of 24-3.
To compete with the likes of its district counterparts and make a deep playoff run, Runkle said the team just needs to go out and enjoy the game.
“We are just going to be positive,” Runkle said. “We are just going to swing the bats and have fun. We can’t play tight, and we can’t let the pressure get to us.”