Catholic High knows what it’s like to be the underdog. Two years ago the 21st-seeded Bears surprised everyone by winning a Class 5A baseball title in New Orleans.
Now the shoe is on the foot. Second-seeded Catholic (36-3) plays No. 14 Brother Martin (24-11) in a Class 5A semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament.
The Bears are eager to show that the state tourney is still a perfect fit even it there’s no Cinderella story.
“The key for us is to just play the game we’ve been playing all year,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “(The Bears) need to play it one pitch at time. They need to trust their ability. They’ve been there before, and they can handle it.”
Game time is set for 4 p.m. Friday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park. Two southwest Louisiana favorites, top-seeded Sulphur (34-2) and No. 5 Barbe (30-10), meet in the other 5A semifinal set for 7 p.m. Barbe is the defending 5A champion and the team that eliminated Catholic from the playoffs last season.
The connection between Brother Martin and Catholic is just as notable. The two Brothers of the Sacred Heart schools have a natural bond and rivalry. Last fall the Crusaders eliminated Catholic in the quarterfinals of the Division I select football playoffs. BMHS is the lowest seed left in 5A.
“You don’t get to this part of the season by chance,” Bass said of Brother Martin. “They’re a good baseball team. I know they’re going to pitch it well. They’ve got quality arms and once again, we’re looking forward to the challenge. I’m sure they feel the same way.”
Catholic has the edge in terms of tourney experience. The Bears have five players who started on that 2013 title team, including pitcher Ross Massey (10-0), a Tulane signee and junior shortstop Josh Smith, an LSU commitment who is hitting .448 with 38 RBIs.
Center fielder Simon Prevot is hitting .363 with 34 RBIs. Pitcher-outfielder Brian Fairbanks is 6-0 on the mound and is batting .319.
Third baseman Hayden Mixon (.333, 39 RBIs) and designated hitter Charles Soileau (.415, 22 RBIs) are other Bears leaders.
Catholic has won 15 straight since losing to St. Amant to open District 5-5A play.
Brother Martin will challenge the Bears with solid pitching led by juniors Blair Frederick, an LSU commitment, and Keagan Gillies, a Tulane commitment.
“No matter where they (LHSAA) host this tournament we’ll be excited to go there,” Bass said.
“We were in Sulphur for a tournament early this year. And now at the end we’re going back.