NEW IBERIA — Errors were hindering the Catholic High-New Iberia Panthers.
The defending Class 2A state runner-up opened the season losing five of its seven games, despite averaging more than five runs per game. The defeats were rooted in Catholic-NI’s poor defense, which was committing three to four errors a game.
The worst defensive performance was the eight errors the team committed in a 7-6 loss to Thibodaux.
“Our season is not where we want it to be,” sixth-year coach Tim Comeaux said. “We should have four to five more wins. We have outplayed, outhit and outpitched some teams but we were let down by our defense.”
“As a team we have made too many errors,” junior utility player T.J. Norris said. “That gives the other team an advantage that hurts us.”
Catholic-NI (8-9, 2-1 in District 5-2A) has slowly repaired its defense and is again in the mix for a district title. Catholic-NI hosts district foe Westminster Christian at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are in the same spot as we were last year,” third-year starting first baseman Austin Menard. “We do expect to finish district without another loss.”
Last season, Catholic-NI overcame a slow start last season, losing eight of its first 14, to make a run to the state championship game where the team lost to Kinder 2-1 in eight innings.
The team returned the majority of last year’s players, minus two starters including Ole Miss football signee Jason Pellerin, who opted to not play basketball and baseball his senior season. This year’s team features 10 seniors and nine juniors.
“The goal is to win the district championship,” Comeaux said. “Once that’s accomplished, you get a home playoff game and make a postseason run.”
Catholic-NI has the pieces to make such a run. Cole Prejean leads the team with a .400 batting average, while starting pitcher Blake Gonsoulin is not far behind at .341 and Peyton Pharr at .333. Gonsoulin (4-1) also leads Catholic-NI on the mound with a 0.84 ERA and 28 strikeouts. Jordan Miller (2-2) has a 1.94 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
With such veteran talent in the dugout, Comeaux said he expects his team to win its fifth district title in six years and make another deep postseason run.
“We have the exact lineup from last year minus the left fielder and catcher,” Comeaux said.
“When you have the same players, you expect the same outcome.”