Sam Taulli is hoping that severe weather doesn’t wash out another baseball tournament.
The longtime Lafayette High coach had prepared his Mighty Lions to play in last weekend’s Denham Springs Tournament. The three-day event, though, was scrapped because of heavy rains and flooding that blanketed that portion of the state.
Now bad weather could play a role again as showers are expected the next few days as the annual Atchafalaya Challenge returns starting with five games Thursday.
The challenge features five teams (Denham Springs, Central-Baton Rouge, Catholic-Baton Rouge, Walker and Live Oak) from the east side of the Atchafalaya Basin that face off against five teams (Comeaux, Carencro, Acadiana, St. Thomas More and Lafayette) from across Acadiana.
“It would be devastating to lose another tournament,” Taulli said. “We need to get out on the field and play.”
Despite the loss of Antoine Duplantis, who is currently starring at LSU, Lafayette is playing well having started the season with a 9-4 record. Senior catcher and McNeese State signee Cain Castille and junior pitcher Miguel Reyes Jr. have led the way.
Taulli views the annual tournament as a great way to prepare for district play, which begins next week for Lafayette when they play Sam Houston and Barbe.
Lafayette opens up the Challenge on Thursday against Walker at 4 p.m.
“If you want to play the best competition down the road, then this is great way to get prepared for that,” Taulli said.
Carencro coach Brannon Cobb echoed that sentiment, as his Golden Bears are adjusting from dropping to Class 4A this season.
“It always honor to be part of this,” Cobb said. “We have been part of it since the beginning. It’s exciting because you are going up against the best, especially at this point because is serves as a good measuring stick to where you truly are. It helps prepare to play the likes of Teurlings Catholic and STM.”
After coming off a disappointing losing season, Carencro has started 7-3. The Bears are led by cleanup hitter Gabe Duffy and Bodie Stelly at the plate, while Brian Sibley, Derrick Living and Mason Devalcourt have anchored the pitching staff.
Carencro takes on Central-BR at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“The big difference this year unlike previous years is that we have a little bit more speed,” Cobb said. We have been able to do some things with the small ball. We are able to put a little more pressure on the defenses and that prevents us from being one dimensional.”
The defending Class 4A champions meanwhile are trying to get on track. A slew of departures, including a three combined to LSU and University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and injuries have the Cougars sitting at 5-6 overall heading into the tournament.
“We are a very young baseball team this year,” coach Gary Perkins said. “I have been forced to play some sophomores so far.”
Junior lefthander Alex Hannie had taken the top spot in the rotation but he has injured his knee and his likely sidelined for the season. Senior Mason Tucker had stepped up but he has injured his hamstring and will now be out the next two to three weeks.
STM hosts Live Oak on Thursday.
“That will make it difficult this weekend,” Perkins said. “Hopefully our younger guys will give us an opportunity to win games.”