The image from a year ago is still fresh on the minds of the John Curtis baseball players.
The Patriots had just lost 6-4 in the Class 3A championship game to Evangel Christian.
“I remember watching them dogpile after the game,” recalled Curtis senior shortstop Jacob Bordelon. “I don’t want that feeling again. I want to dogpile.”
The Patriots are two wins away from getting a chance to do just that.
Curtis (24-3), the No. 2 seed, plays No. 3 Iowa (24-8) at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball Tournament at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game to play the winner of the Evangel Christian-Parkview Baptist semifinal.
Patriots coach Johnny Curtis has made sure his team hasn’t forgot about that feeling from 2014.
“I think the guys are very hungry,” Curtis said. “We have a group message board that we communicate with the players with. We have burned that picture in our head last year of Evangel rushing the mound and celebrating. Hopefully, we can use that as motivation this time. But ultimately, you have to win one at a time, so the semifinal is going to be the most important one.”
Curtis enters Friday’s semifinal riding a 15-game winning streak. The Patriots’ only losses this season have come to 5A semifinalist Brother Martin, Jesuit and Live Oak.
Iowa, which finished third in District 4-3A, has won four straight. The Yellow Jackets are in the semifinals for the first time since 2012, when they finished as runners-up.
Dayton Sonnier, Trenton Richard and Elwaine Carrier are among the leaders of the Iowa offense.
“They are very scrappy,” Curtis said. “Nothing that is going to be out of the ordinary as far as overpowering pitching or home run hitting. But they are scrappy. They’ve lost eight games, but they have won 24 and they feel like they are playing good at this time.”
The Patriots believe they are playing well also.
They’ve outscored their three playoff opponents (Iota, Jena and North Vermilion) by a combined score of 14-2 They shut out Iota and North Vermilion and shut out Jena for the first six innings.
“We are pitching real well, hitting well and playing good defense,” Bordelon said.
Bordelon, who has signed with Southeastern Louisiana, is one of five seniors on the team looking to bring Curtis its first baseball state title since 2002. The other seniors are first baseman A.J. Huff, outfielder Myles Washington, outfielder Hunter Dale and Dorian Rodrigue.
Rodrigue was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in April and won’t play but has served as an inspiration to the team that went through its final full practice Wednesday.
“It was bittersweet,” said Washington, a Kent State football signee. “I have one last ride with my boys, so I have to give it all I have. We came up short last year. We feel like that loss cannot happen again. We are going over there looking to come back with a ring.”
“We are real hungry,” he said. “We want to go out there and get this win and get a championship. We haven’t had one in years.”