Given the complexion of the new softball district Beau Chene would compete in this season, coach Thad Dickey decided to prepare his team for the long haul.

A year after losing in the Class 4A state regionals, the Gators are squarely in the thick of the District 4-4A race with an eye on greater aspirations.

“I take a lot of pride in getting to the playoffs and trying to do something special,” Dickey said. “The girls played hard last year and fell a little short of our goal, which was to get to the state tournament. This year their goal is a little higher. They want to win it.”

To that end Dickey loaded up his team’s nondistrict schedule with other tradition-rich programs and the result for Beau Chene has been a 13-3 record.

Moreover, the Gators are tied for the District 4-4A lead with a 3-1 mark going into a key league home game against St. Thomas More (9-6, 2-1) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Teurlings Catholic (5-10, 3-1) also has a share in the district lead.

“When we changed districts, the first thing I said was that was great,” Dickey said. “I knew we were going to get some really great games that would make us better.”

To provide his team with an adequate foundation to compete against the district’s upper echelon teams, Dickey scheduled two predistrict tournaments in which the Gators split against District 7-5A heavyweights Hahnville (12-0 loss) and Destrehan (7-1 win).

Beau Chene also defeated Belle Chasse, a team with a 16-5 record, in the same tournament. The Gators also scored an early season win over Grant (3-2) before incurring a recent 9-0 loss at District 5-5A leader St. Amant.

“We haven’t backed down from competition,” Dickey said. “We’ve played teams that historically have been very solid. I scheduled the teams I felt would push us. I think we should play the best and regardless if we lose, I’d rather lose to someone who’s good.”

The driving force behind Dickey’s scheduling philosophy was a team that returned plenty of experience and talent to compete against some of the state’s best teams.

The Gators feature a starting lineup with five seniors and a standout pitcher in junior Bryley Rodriguez (12-3, 1.90 ERA).

Senior third baseman Lindsey Charles tops Beau Chene with a .470 batting average and senior all-state outfielder Victoria Burns, now playing in left field, has a .436 average.

Senior Adalyn Deville, who will sign with Centenary, is batting .412 and has played left and right field this season. Junior shortstop Payge Hebert hitting .375.

Dickey said senior Jordan Castille, a Bossier Parish Community College signee, has been solid behind the plate, while senior Lauren Manuel has been a strong defensive presence at first base.

Beau Chene would like to atone for one its losses, a 4-3 setback against St. Thomas More on March 8. The Gators have subsequently won six of their past seven games, including district wins over Teurlings (13-7) and Carencro (10-2).

“I like my chances at home, where we’ve played well,” Dickey said. “It’s a great rivalry. There’s a lot of respect between both teams and the coaches. They’re very good, and I also think we’re very good.”