The baseball season got off to slow start for Denham Springs High.
Early season rain forced the Yellow Jackets to cancel their first tournament and also eliminated a key nondistrict game with St. Amant High.
As the final two weeks of the regular season approach, coach Mark Carroll’s team is right where it needs to be — facing a District 4-5A showdown with Zachary High at 3 p.m. Saturday. The game helps highlight Saturday’s action in the Baton Rouge area.
DSHS (17-5, 3-0) is ranked ninth in the latest Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association’s Class 5A poll, five spots behind No. 4 Zachary (19-8, 3-0). Like most other teams in the Baton Rouge area, the 4-5A teams have had to make up their fair share of rainouts. In fact, both teams were set to play make-ups on Friday night.
“Who we’ll start Saturday will depend on who we need to pitch Friday night,” Carroll said, referencing Friday’s game with rival Walker High. “We’ll have to see. We’re in the process of taking them one at a time.
“It took us a little while to get going. This has been a fun bunch of kids to coach. We’ve got some guys who have played a lot before and others who are getting their turn to play and are making the most of it.”
Carroll said senior left-hander Austin Thomas or one of two junior right-handers, Brian McCaffrey and Brennan Batty. Zachary will counter with Northwestern State signee Evan Tidwell (7-1, 1.63 earned run average).
“Zachary plays aggressive on offense,” Carroll ssid. “They bunt and run and put pressure on you. You can’t make mistakes and give them extra outs or extra chances because they’ll usually burn you.”
Tidwell, a right-hander who has 58 strikeouts and only four walks in 42 innings, will be challenged by an Denham Springs lineup that also has speed. Second baseman Bryce Dugas, center-fielder Andrew Ayres and outfielder Carl Guidry are top hitters for the Yellow Jackets.
Two outfielders, Andre Weber (.415) and Steven Babin (.385), help lead the way for Zachary, along with first baseman Kevin Vince (.370).
“We graduated six position players, and most of those guys started for two or three years,” Zachary coach Jesse Cassard said.
“We hit a rough patch and lost four in a row right in the middle of the season.
“We’ve got 11 seniors, but we also have four sophomores who are starters and everyone knows their role now. Denham Springs is like us in that way, too. And they have some speed and can put pressure on you, too. And it’s a big game for both of us.”