The season’s pendulum finally swung in Port Barre’s favor nearly three weeks ago.
Before a District 5-3A-opening 7-6 victory over defending champion Livonia, the Red Devils split their first 12 games of the season.
Although they faltered twice more in tournament play, the landmark victory showed the potential for Port Barre (10-8, 5-0), which takes the District 5-3A lead into Tuesday’s rematch at Livonia (13-4, 4-1) at 4 p.m.
“It gave our team a lot of confidence,” Port Barre coach Craig Stevens said. “We knew we could beat anybody in our district once we beat them.”
Delcambre has managed to handle the first portion of its District 5-2A schedule unscathed but realizes the challenge increases Tuesday when the Panthers (11-5, 4-0) visit Catholic-New Iberia (9-9, 3-1) for a 6 p.m. contest.
“They’ve always been good and well coached,” said Delcambre first-year coach Chad Hayes, whose team hosts CHNI Thursday at 6 p.m. “I know they’re going to come ready to play and our kids will be ready.”
Although it made for some tense moments, Stevens said it was gratifying to watch his team to jump out to a 6-1 lead over Livonia and have the Wildcats tie the score before the Red Devils won the game in the seventh inning.
“To me, that makes it better,” he said. “We showed we could execute at the end of a game to get it done. The last four to five years, they’ve been the best team in our district.”
Stevens credited the pitching job Tuesday’s starter Austin Lanclos (4-2, 2.25 ERA, 26 Ks) and Dale White (4-2) have done in leading Port Barre’s resurgence.
Senior catcher Cy Bryson (.529, 22 RBIs) has been another key for the Devils along with a re-built infield that featured four new starters when Lanclos — a shortstop — starts on the mound.
Delcambre has found itself in comeback mode in order to extend its win streak to five games.
The Panthers had to overcome a deficit in their second game with Westminster Christian for a 4-3 league victory and trailed Kaplan in a nondistrict game Saturday, forcing extra innings with a pair of runs in the seventh and won it an inning later, 3-2.
“A lot of the runs we give up are unearned,” Hayes said. “Just simple things that can be corrected and we’ve worked on in practice. If the pitchers keep throwing like they do and hitting their spots, we’ll be OK.”
Delcambre counts on a pitching staff that’s put together an impressive 2.12 earned run average. Senior right-hander Austin Thibodeaux (2-2, 2.07) gets the start against Catholic-NI with second baseman Chris Borel (.516, 11 RBIs) leading the team offensively.