Curtis needs to clear big U-High hurdle to get to title game _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SUSAN POAG -- John Curtis no. 9 pitcher Harry Chairs winds up to throw during the Class 3A baseball playoff game between John Curtis and Parkview Baptist Schools at Mike Miley Stadium in Metairie, Louisiana Monday, May 12, 2014.

For John Curtis Christian High School, it’s already been quite a special school year for the athletic program.

The school has won five state championships, including two the past two weeks in softball and outdoor track, over the past six months.

The Patriots baseball team looks to make it a six-pack this weekend when it goes for a state championship in Sulphur.

Top-seeded Curtis (30-6) will play No. 4 seed University Lab (25-9) on Friday at McMurry Park. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game to play the Brusly-Evangel Christian winner.

“It’s been a special year for our school,” said Patriots coach Johnny Curtis. “And what’s great about these guys is that a lot of these guys are multiple sport guys.

They are either baseball and football, baseball and basketball, or baseball and track. That says a lot. It shows that they have given up a lot of time for their school.”

In addition to the football, softball and outdoor track titles, the school also won championships in cross-country and indoor track.

The Patriots are seeking their first baseball title since 2002.

It would be the third under Curtis, who also led the school to a title in 2000. He also won one as an assistant (1997) and two as a player in 1990 and 1991. Curtis is playing in the semifinals for the first time since 2010.

Losses in the second round the past few years have motivated this year’s squad, especially last year’s season-ending loss to Kinder.

“That was a big blow,” said senior first baseman Calvin Linden. “We had a really good team and a close group of guys. It brought a lot of emotions in the second round this season when we played Notre Dame, and we wanted to make sure we got over that second-round hump.”

Curtis gives much of the credit to his eight seniors.

“I think for this group, it has just been a maturation process,” Curtis said.

“These eight seniors have played together for the last four years. Three years ago, we decided to start some of these guys as sophomores, hoping to get ourselves to this point. So we expected to be where we are.”

Curtis, which played in Class 2A last season, will play a U-High team that reached the 2A title game last season.

Shortstop Brandt Broussard and catcher James Kern are both batting .404 for the Cubs team, who are hitting .298. Broussard has 12 RBIs and leads the club with 26 stolen bases, while Kern has 10 doubles a team-high 26 RBIs.

John Lewis (9-2, 1.29 ERA, 59 strikeouts, 65 innings) is the scheduled starter for the Cubs, who extended their current winning streak to 11 games with back-to-back road playoff wins.

“If you’re a competitor, you want to play the best in a great atmosphere,” Broussard said. “I know every one of our kids dreams about playing in these type of games.”

Curtis will counter with either Evan Hileman (10-3) or Harry Chairs (0-1).

The Patriots are batting .354 as a team with 18 home runs.

“It’s probably one of the most balanced mixes we have had in the lineup,” Curtis said. “It’s kind of a pick your poison.”

The Patriots are led at the plate by Linden (.509), Myles Washington (.407), Daniel Cabrrera (.388, 31 RBIs, five triples), Chairs (.373) and Mossy Mueller (.322).

“They’re just like any good team,” U-High coach Burke Broussard said of Curtis. “They’ve got really good pitching, play good defense and have people that can hit throughout their lineup.”

Players like Hunter Dale, a standout safety on the Curtis football team, relish the opportunity to win another title after winning three straight in football.

“It’s fun because we don’t have to end our competitiveness in December after football,” said the junior outfielder. “It just keeps going all year round. It’s always an endless grind.”

It’s one that Curtis hopes ends with another state title, capping off a splendid school year.

“These guys came back with a lot of maturity and a lot of determination this year to give themselves this chance,” Curtis said.

“Hopefully we can seize that opportunity.”