Riding an 11-game winning streak, St. John of Plaquemine wants to continue its hot streak in the Class 1A Louisiana High School Athletic Association state baseball tournament.
The fourth-seeded Eagles (25-5) play No. 9 Sacred Heart-Ville Platte (22-8) in a semifinal game at 2 p.m. Friday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
Sacred Heart, which tied St. Edmund for second in District 5-1A with a 5-3 district record, has also been hot in the playoffs, outscoring three foes 35-8.
Sacred Heart knocked off top-seeded Ouachita Christian 7-5 in the quarterfinals. St. John, the District 8-1A co-champion, has a 16-6 playoff scoring advantage.
St. John has two talented left-handed pitchers in senior Hunter Schnebelen (10-1, 2.80 ERA) and junior Brandon Noel (7-1). Right-hander Hayden Hemenway (four saves) is another pitcher.
It’s been a busy week for the St. John players with a 6-1 quarterfinal playoff win over Ascension Catholic on Monday, senior awards Tuesday, athletic banquet Wednesday and graduation Thursday.
“We’ve been here before, so we’ll be ready,” St. John coach Heath Whittington said.
St. John lost a 4-2 semifinal game last season to eventual champion Mangham. Four starters returned from that team.
“We’re a pretty balanced team,” Whittington said. “Our batting has been consistent. We’re solid from 1 to 9 in the order. We’re playing our best baseball.”
Defensive standouts for the Eagles include senior catcher Jacob Maranto, senior shortstop Chris Patin and first baseman Dylan Tepanaro.
“Jacob Maranto is a three-year starter and has done a good job at catcher,” Whittington said. “He throws well.”
Noel or Schnebelen will play center field when the other pitches. Senior Bailey Whittington is the right fielder and senior Mason Leblanc the left fielder.
“We’ve got good speed in the outfield,” Whittington said. “Bailey and Mason have been two under the radar players for us. They can cover some ground. They’ve made some plays you normally don’t see at the 1A level.”
Sophomore designated hitter Gavin Landry is another player to watch.
“I know Sacred Heart coach Cody Vidrine real well, and I know his teams are very disciplined,” Whittington said. “They do the little things well. He likes to bunt and run.
“The game will come down to who executes the most. We’re prepared. I hope we get there and get it done.”