With a three-team district, every game is significant.
When you put the league’s two undefeated teams together for one afternoon, it becomes magnified.
That’s the challenge that awaits Notre Dame (11-4, 1-0), which hosts red-hot Opelousas Catholic (11-1, 1-0) in a battle of District 5-2A co-leaders Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Crowley’s Recreation Center.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. We’re very excited about it,” Notre Dame second-year coach Ashley Ray said. “They’re all pretty important now, and as far as winning the district title, this is going to be a big game.”
Both teams have opened league play with decidedly different wins over Sacred Heart-Ville Platte.
Notre Dame registered a comfortable 11-3 verdict on March 17, while Opelousas Catholic’s recent 11-game win streak was put to the test, overcoming a season-high four errors in an 8-7 victory last week.
“We hadn’t had that many errors since last year,” OC coach Jay Artall said. “We’re starting eight sophomores. I’m looking forward to see how we’re going to react to some of these teams that have four or five seniors and a lot more experience.”
OC opened the season with a 5-4 road loss to Catholic-Pointe Coupee and hasn’t lost since.
The Vikings reached an early milestone on March 19 with a 6-0 victory at Class 3A staple Brusly.
OC relies on pitchers Tori Collins, a junior left-hander, and Anna LaFleur, a sophomore right-hander.
Madison Nicholas gives the Vikings a traditional leadoff hitter with an excellent eye at the plate and speed on the bases, while Emily Ortego homered and had two hits in the win over Sacred Heart.
“It’s going to be an interesting matchup,” Artall said. “The girls are looking forward to it. We’ve seemed to rise and fall with the (level of) competition. We’ve been very competitive with everybody and beaten the teams we were supposed to. We looked good against Brusly, so I know how good we can be if we show up and play our game.”
Notre Dame has also caught fire of late, boosted by the consistency of a lineup that’s dealt with the arrival of several players from the Lady Pios’ state playoff basketball team.
Ray said her team’s done its best in the face of battling illnesses and injuries.
With its entire team intact, Notre Dame’s reeled off four consecutive victories, the last two by run-rule over Catholic-New Iberia and Teurlings Catholic.
Sophomore Marcella Gossen carries a 2.00 earned run average in the circle, while Notre Dame’s offense features third baseman Mima Doucet (.548, 1 HR, 5 2Bs, 21 RBIs) and catcher Abbey Higginbotham (.509, 1 HR, 5 2Bs, 24 RBIs).
“I’ve been proud of the girls.They’ve worked a whole lot,” Ray said. “I’m excited to see how this game goes. OC always has a good team, and we’ve both been doing well. These are the fun games.”