Doyle, Runnels and Maurepas hope to turn their home field advantage into trips to next week’s LHSAA state baseball tournament.
All three schools are the higher seeds heading into Saturday’s quarterfinals.
No. 1 Doyle (24-5) entertains No. 8 Sterlington (19-9) at 5 p.m. and No. 2 Runnels (20-4) plays host to No. 7 Riverside Academy (17-10-1) at 2 p.m. in Class 2A quarterfinal games.
No. 5 Maurepas (20-8) entertains No. 13 Zwolle (12-9) at 1 p.m. in Class B. No. 5 Parkview Baptist (21-12) travels to No. 4 South Beauregard (25-4) at 6 p.m. Monday in Class 3A.
In 2014, Runnels advanced to the quarterfinals as the 22nd seed. The Raiders lost 8-7 on the road to Riverside.
“Being at home in the quarterfinals is much better,” Runnels coach Tookie Johnson said. “We’ll need good at-bats throughout the lineup. My guys compete hard. I like how my team handles the pressure and just plays baseball. We still have a chance to reach all our goals.”
Runnels has two state baseball titles (1997 and 2008). Doyle was the 2001 Class B runner-up.
Runnels will send Josh Sparks (2-0) to the mound, while Doyle goes with senior Tyler Pigott (8-1, 0.88 ERA), who has 100 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Doyle coach Tim Beatty said his squad is led by seven seniors “who are battle-tested. We’re 10-1 in one-run games, and we’re 18-1 when we score four or more runs. When we score four runs, we expect to win.”
Other seniors for Doyle include second baseman Blaine Ouber (.304, team-high 22 RBIs), outfielder/pitcher Justin Ridgell (.307, 21 runs scored), designated hitter Caleb Hollins (11 RBIs), catcher Ben Barnes (.235, 21 RBIs) and third baseman Clay Kleinpeter.
“Clay Kleinpeter is probably our best defensive player,” Beatty said.
Junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Trey Fontenot (.330, team-high 16 walks) can cover a wide area on defense.
“We’re pretty fired up about this game,” Beatty said. “We’re playing well. We should have a good crowd. Sterlington will put the ball in play, and their pitchers will throw strikes.”
Sterlington defeated Doyle 4-0 two seasons ago in the Class 2A bidistrict round.
“We’d like to get them back,” Beatty said.
Leading hitters for Runnels include Johnny Johnson (.406, six HRs), Sparks (.368, 23 RBIs), Hampton Hudson (.344, 2 HRs) and Thomas Myers (.341).
Maurepas is a veteran team with three seniors and four juniors who start. Donavan Thibodeaux (8-1, .463) gets the pitching start.
“Donavan is a bulldog of a pitcher,” Maurepas coach Anthony Gregoire said. “He’s a competitor and doesn’t want to lose.”
Maurepas is solid in the outfield with junior Christian Vicknair (.286), senior Brodey Babin (.368) and senior Darian Bouquet (.458). Junior third baseman Chaz Scivicque (.506, 52 RBIs, 14 doubles, two HRs) is a force at the plate.
“We set goals to win five in a row in the playoffs,” Gregoire said. “There is buzz in our community about this baseball team. This is a determined group. We’re ready.”