Sulphur’s Frasch Park has long been the destination for softball teams seeking state titles.
But for 16 baseball teams, including six with ties to the Baton Rouge area, Sulphur’s McMurry Park and its artificial turf fields are the fields of dreams for Louisiana High School Athletic Association teams from four classifications.
The LHSAA’s State Tournament for teams in Class 4A, 3A, B and C begins at 10 a.m. Friday.
Three BR area teams help jump start the action. Parkview Baptist (18-17) takes on defending champion North DeSoto (28-4) in a Class 3A semifinal set for 10 a.m. District 6 rivals Family Christian (24-4) and Mauepas (16-11) meet in a Class C semifinal also at 10 a.m.. FCA also is a defending state champion.
Semifinal action continues throughout the day. Lafayette rivals St. Thomas More (28-4) and defending champion Teurlings Catholic (25-7) play in a 4A semifinal set for 7 p.m. to cap Friday’s action. Finals ares scheduled to begin at noon Saturday.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Brusly High coach Tait Dupont said of McMurry. “We played in a tournament there last year and hope that helps us. This is what everybody plays for.”
This is the second straight season that Sulphur has hosted four classes. Each group includes a defending champion. Hornbeck (20-13) was the Class B champion in 2012.
Class 4A Lutcher (27-4) is a tourney newcomer. The Bulldogs are in the semifinals for the first time since the LHSAA started hosting tourneys for all classes more than a decade ago. Here is a breakdown:
Lutcher meets Tioga (27-9) at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs seek their first state title since 1975, having won titles previously in 3A in 1975, 2A in 1967 and 1A in 1951.
“Going to the tournament is new for us,” Lutcher coach Davy Clement said. “The whole community is excited about it. This group set goals, and one of them was to make the tournament.
“Tioga is a quality team. We played them twice last year, and from what we understand they have several players back from that team. I think it’s a good matchup.”
Lutcher, the No. 2 seed, is led by a talented senior class that includes LSU signee Jared Poche (10-0) and Tulane signee Corey Merrill (5-1). Cody Moore (7-1) leads Tioga.
Top-seeded STM looks to advance after losing to Holy Cross in the 2012 semifinals. Wyatt Marks (7-1) and Hogan Harris (7-0) lead the Cougars. Teurlings is led by Michael Hawkins (10-1).
Top-seeded North DeSoto enters the tourney with a 23-game winning streak. Fifth-seeded Parkview, a traditional 3A power, is the underdog. Meanwhile, Brusly (26-7) is a No. 11 seed that faces a District 7-3A rival in Thibodaux’s E.D. White Catholic (27-4), the No. 2 seed. That game is set for 1 p.m.
“We’re definitely the underdog,” PBS coach Darron Mitchell said. “North DeSoto is an experienced team. They know how to win. Our guys have a little chip on their shoulder and want to prove themselves. We played a tough schedule to help us get to this point. I’m anxious to see how we respond.”
Gage Pickett (4-3-1) gets the start for PBS. First baseman Cody Daigle (.380) is the top hitter for the Eagles. Austin Pinnick (12-1) and catcher Hunter Thomas (.412) help lead NDHS.
Brusly will start either Taylor Prejean (10-1) or Luke LeBlanc (9-1) in its game with EDW. The teams will meet for the first time since E.D. White swept back-to-back district games from the Panthers. Scott Szush (12-1) and second baseman Seth Gravois (.403) help lead the Cardinals.
“Both teams have changed since we played,” Dupont said. “It’s two quality teams who know each other well. There’s no need for a scouting report.”
Maurepas and Family Christian enter their semifinal with decidedly different goals. Maurepas wants to keep it close; FCA doesn’t. Family Christian won the two district games the teams played by a 24-1 margin.
“We can’t give them a three and four-run innings,” Maurepas coach Anthony Gregoire said. “We have to keep it close to put pressure on them. We’re going to small ball you and try to push across runs. They’re going to pitch well and swing away.”
Family Christian coach Rick Smith adds, “If it’s close they (the Wolves), will start believing. We need to set the tone. We want to finish strong and do something special and repeat. But it’s tough to do. Everybody has to have the right mindset.”
Ben Chauvin is hitting .494 for FCA. Chaz Scivicque (.402) leads Livingston Parish-based MHS.