There may never be an ideal time to play the defending state champion in baseball, but doing so at the Allstate/Sugar Bowl LHSAA state tournament at Sulphur’s McMurry Park is as good as any.
Fifth-seeded Maurepas in Class B and top-seeded Doyle in Class 2A will each face that task after advancing to the state semifinals in their respective classifications.
For Maurepas (21-9), the test comes Thursday when it faces No. 9 Fairview (16-10) at 7 p.m. Fairview defeated Glenmora 5-4 in the 2014 Class B title game.
Doyle (23-5) gets its chance Friday at 1 p.m. when it takes on No. 4 Kinder (22-9), which edged Catholic-New Iberia 2-1 for last season’s Class 2A title.
Maurepas coach Anthony Gregoire likes the experience his team brings into the game. Many current players were on the team when it advanced to the semifinals in 2013.
“We’re a veteran ballclub,” he said. “We returned eight starters from last year, and we’ve been though the wars.”
The key to this season was getting an early start. Once basketball season ended, an infusion of players hungry to win helped hone the team’s focus.
“I had quite a few juniors that didn’t play basketball this year, so we had more in fall workouts,” Gregoire said. “I could see them developing. Once our basketball players got here, things started gelling.”
Maurepas advanced with a clutch performance in its 3-2 quarterfinal win over Zwolle. With key hits from Austin Aime and Chaz Scivicque, brother of LSU catcher Kade Scivicque, the Wolves rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to get the win.
Aime will start against Fairview. Besides Scivicque, other top hitters for Maurepas are seniors Donovan Thibodeaux and Darien Bouquet, and junior Brody Babin.
If Maurepas wins, it advances to play for the championship at noon Saturday against the winner between No. 3 Choudrant and No. 2 Florien.
Doyle coach Tim Beatty knew he had a special group of players when he first became coach three years ago. In that time, the Tigers matured enough to move Doyle into the semifinals for the first time since a Class B state runner-up finish in 2001.
Even though Doyle exited the playoffs early last season, Beatty said his team was capable of making the state tournament.
“Last year, I thought we had a chance to go far, and we lost in the first round to Runnels, so this year I beefed up the schedule,” he said. “I did it to help us get ready for a long stretch in the playoffs, and I think its really paid off.”
It can only help Doyle at the state tournament, where 2A’s top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals.
“That’s a nice accomplishment for 2A, and it shows that the four teams who played the best all year were properly rewarded with top seeds,” Beatty said. “We’re happy to be in the top spot. We know Kinder is a quality opponent and they are the defending champions. We’re looking forward to a good matchup.”
Shortstop Hilton Savoy’s sixth-inning, two-run single keyed Doyle’s 3-1 quarterfinal win over Sterlington. Also a pitcher, Savoy has an 8-1 record and a 1.22 ERA. Either Savoy or Tyler Pigott (9-1, 0.89 ERA) will get the start against Kinder.
Junior Trey Fontenot leads the Tigers in hitting at .321. Other leaders are seniors Justin Ridgedale (.301), Blaine Oubre (.307), Daniel Palmer (.293), Ben Barnes (19 RBI) and Caleb Holland (.250).
Second-seeded Runnels and No. 3 Oak Grove play in Friday’s other 2A semifinal. The winners will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday.