Lafayette High strikes early to subdue Sam Houston _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette High's Hudson Laborde rounds second base after hitting a home run against Sam Houston on March 31 in Lafayette.

Lafayette High is officially in the chase position headed into its regular-season finale.

After going into the week with a share of the District 3-5A lead, the Mighty Lions (20-8, 8-3) must now win at New Iberia on Wednesday and have league-leading Barbe (27-6, 9-2) lose for an opportunity to be co-champions.

“I don’t remember the last time we won district,” Lafayette coach Sam Taulli said. “Either Barbe’s won it or last year it was Sulphur. We came close in 2011 and were one game back. We have never been able to get over that hump.”

The latest bump in Lafayette’s road to a District 3-5A title occurred at home Monday in a 4-2 loss to Sulphur.

The Lions built a 2-0 lead, including an RBI from team leader Hudson Laborde, but the visiting Golden Tors (18-11, 6-5) scored four times in the top of the fifth inning.

Lafayette has established a precedent during its first two district losses by responding in a positive manner. In order to keep their faint district title hopes alive, the Lions will need to continue that trend.

“The kids are pretty even-keeled,” Taulli said. “Both times we beat Barbe we kind of felt good about ourselves and then turned around and lost to Acadiana in the first round and Berwick in the second round after the Sam Houston game. The intensity and fire was much better at the Acadiana game, and we got after them.”

Laborde is the team’s leader with a .465 average, seven homers and 33 RBIs, while right fielder/pitcher Emile Lege bats .345 with four homers and center fielder Tyler Miller is a .328 hitter with 30 runs scored.

The common denominator is the Lions’ district success has been the strength of their pitching, led by Bo Hardin (8-0 overall, 4-0 in district), along with LSU commitment Miguel Reyes Jr. (2-1 in district), Lege, Joseph Battaglia and closer Adam Arnold (one win, one save).

While Lafayette, which swept Barbe this season, is scheduled to finish with New Iberia, the Lions will have to wait for the results of the Buccaneers’ finale at Sam Houston (19-11, 6-5) on Thursday.

Moreover, Lafayette and Barbe are also in pursuit of the state’s No. 1 seed. The Lions are No. 1 in the unofficial LHSAA power rankings, with the Bucs No. 2. The LHSAA will release its playoff seeds and pairings Sunday.

“We told the team there was only one game left in season two before we go to season three,” said Taulli, referencing district play followed by the postseason.

“If we want to stay No. 1, we’re going to have to play every game like it’s a playoff game.”