From inauspicious beginnings to state title contenders, Parkview Baptist and Ascension Catholic have hit their strides at the right time.
For Ascension Catholic (16-16), there was a 2-11 start before a closing run that included an 8-2 mark in district 8-1A. After two playoff wins, the No. 14 Bulldogs host No. 6 Central Catholic (22-4) in the Class 1A quarterfinals Monday at 6 p.m.
Fifth-seeded Parkview Baptist (21-12), playing its typically rugged pre-district schedule, started out 9-9. The Eagles went 8-2 in 7-3A, and bring a nine-game winning streak into their Monday quarterfinal game with No. 4 South Beauregard (25-4) at Longville.
“We try to play the best competition we can,” PBS coach Darron Mitchell said. “We could have a few more wins, but we like to get challenged early. There are a lot of quality baseball teams in Baton Rouge, and it’s easy to play a good schedule. It’s frustrating at times.”
Parkview has played in 13 one-run games so far. Parkview has 6-7 record in those games, but the last three have been wins for the Eagles. The latest was a 2-1 playoff win over St. Louis Catholic of District 4-3A last Tuesday.
Parkview’s Hunter Joubert threw a four-hit, complete game to get the win. Pryce Fletcher’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth sealed the win.
The only downside was Eagles third baseman/pitcher Adam Tarver being ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct after failing to slide on a play at the plate.
Tarver has since completed an LHSAA sportsmanship course and is scheduled to start on the mound against South Beauregard, another 4-3A team.
The Knights, who are making their first quarterfinal appearance, are led by 6-foot-4 right-hander Nick Lee.
“We’re expecting to see Lee, who some people say is the best pitcher in the state, and one of the best in the country,” Mitchell said. “Its going to be a challenge, but I like the way we’re playing. It should be another high intensity game with a lot quality baseball.”
Ascension Catholic advanced to last season’s quarterfinals before a loss to St. John, and is accustomed to playoff baseball. The Bulldogs lost four players to graduation and one to a football injury.
“We’ve got a good core group back that was (in the quarterfinals) last year,” ACHS coach Todd Landry said. “They know what it feels like to be there. We faced a very good St. John team last year, and it will be no different this year.
“I told the team, ‘When you get to the quarterfinals, there’s nothing left but quality teams. You have to go out and play good, quality baseball and hope you play better than the other team that day.”
The Bulldogs avenged an early season loss to Hanson Memorial with a 6-3 win over the third-seeded Tigers. Landon Clifton (5-5) got the win, while Collin Landry keyed the offense with a grand slam.
Clifton will start against Central Catholic as ACHS looks to avenge another early season loss. Central Catholic edged Ascension Catholic 2-1 at its tournament in March.
Other leaders for ACHS include leadoff hitter Garrett Hales, Nick Bellina and Ross Ponville. Falcon Mire, a top hitter, also handles pitching duties.
“At this point, we just feel privileged to be in the quarterfinals with a chance to play,” Landry said. “Our kids are playing really well, and are well-deserving to play in this setting.”