Just over two weeks ago, Catholic High’s baseball team stood with a break-even record of 8-8 following three successive tournament losses in the Atchafalaya Challenge and uncertain about the direction its season would take.
The Bears closed out play in the same tournament, which matched teams from Baton Rouge against Lafayette, with wins over Acadiana and Comeaux — verdicts that have seemed to act as catalysts.
Catholic (15-8, 4-0) has since put together a season-high seven-game win streak that’s given the Bears a jolt of confidence and a share of the District 5-5A lead heading into Tuesday’s 6 p.m. showdown at Dutchtown (15-8, 4-0).
“Our kids kept showing up and working hard and getting after it,” Catholic High coach Brad Bass said. “We took the approach that every game was going to be a 15-round title fight, and we’re going to try to win it one pitch, one inning at a time and take it from there.”
Catholic’s most successful stretch of the season also included an 8-7 victory over Denham Springs and a wild, back-and-forth, 10-9 league victory that went extra innings at St. Amant.
The Bears have averaged 12.5 runs in that span, scoring double-digit runs in five of those seven victories.
“Catholic High’s playing really well right now, playing with a lot of confidence and swinging the bats really well,” Dutchtown coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “It should be a great matchup.”
Dutchtown, which has won six of its past seven games, could put some distance between itself and the competition with a successful week. The Griffins begin second-round play Thursday at St. Amant (15-7, 2-2) and host East Ascension (10-13, 2-2) on Saturday.
“This is probably the toughest week of the season for us,” Schexnaydre said. “We tell the kids every game is the biggest game of the year because it’s the next game.”
Dutchtown senior right-hander Cole Stapler, a Nicholls State signee, takes a 2-1 record, 3.09 ERA and 28 strikeouts into Tuesday’s game.
Third baseman and LSU commitment Austin Bain (.420, eight doubles, 23 RBIs) tops the Griffins offensively, followed by shortstop and ULM signee Robby Podorsky (.413, 13 RBIs, 20 of 21 in stolen bases) and right fielder and LSU-Eunice signee Mason Nickens (.407, two doubles, 14 RBIs).
Sophomore left-hander Ross Massey (4-0, 068 ERA, 46 Ks in 31 innings) is the scheduled starter for Catholic, which is led offensively by catcher Jordan Romero (.507, six HRs, 34 RBIs), shortstop Josh Smith (.419, three HRs, 15 RBIs) and right fielder Corey Free (.393).
“We’re real excited about the game with Dutchtown,” Bass said. “Anytime you get a quality opponent like them, you’re excited about it, and our kids are fired up to play.”