Coaches know there is no set timetable to determine how quickly high school baseball players and teams develop.
Two young teams that are quickly coming of age, Class 4A Plaquemine and 2A Episcopal, host key district games Thursday to highlight a schedule of league games in the Baton Rouge area.
Plaquemine (14-8, 3-4) hosts Lutcher (21-4, 6-1) at 4 p.m. in District 6-4A, while Episcopal (11-15, 7-2), riding an eight-game winning streak, hosts Dunham (19-10, 5-4) in District 7-2A.
The games are part of a busy prep schedule that also includes two district track meets, the 5-5A meet at Catholic High and the 9-1A meet at West St. John in Edgard.
In addition, softball teams set their regional-round playoff games for either Friday or Saturday.
“We’re starting three freshmen and two sophomores, so it took some time,” Plaquemine coach Scott Allen said. “But we’ve played a tough schedule. These guys have grown, and they see they’re capable of playing with just about anybody.”
Same thing for Episcopal, which also starts three freshmen and an eighth-grader.
“We’ve come a long way since that first district game when we got no-hit by University,” Episcopal coach Dan Canevari said. “Believe it or not, that game was a turning point for us.
“This group has probably jelled together better than any team I’ve seen in a while. And it really is all about the team. We have a different guy who has led us each game. Our motto is will over skill.”
Plaquemine proved its mettle by playing Lutcher, rated second in the 4A power-ratings, to a 2-1 game Tuesday at Lutcher. A win over Lutcher could improve the Green Devils’ playoff stock.
Senior Ben Cavalier (5-2) is scheduled to start for PHS. Sully Laiche (2-1) will start for Lutcher, according to LHS coach Davy Clement. LSU signee Jared Poche could come on in relief for Lutcher, which is tied with St. Michael in the league standings.
University High already has the 7-2A title wrapped up. Episcopal, which has seen its stock rise from No. 36 to No. 21 in the power-ratings, also looks to improve its playoff stock before the LHSAA announces its playoff pairings next week.
Senior pitcher Patrick Stone gets the start for the Knights. Turner Graham and Ben Gutierrez are both hitting near .300 to pace Episcopal, a 3-1 winner over Dunham on Tuesday.
District track concludes
Field events start at 2 p.m. for the District 5-5A track at Catholic High, with field events set to follow at 4 p.m. At West St. John, field events start at 3 p.m. and running events are at 5 p.m.
The 5-5A meet features the defending 5A state champions, Baton Rouge High (girls) and Dutchtown (boys).
“It should be a meet with some great individual competitions and team races,” Catholic coach Pete Boudreaux said. “You have Dutchtown and us, and on the girls side, you have the Academy (St. Joseph’s Academy) and Baton Rouge High.”
Dutchtown’s Corey McBride and the Catholic duo of Derrius Guice and Khalil Thomas headline the boys sprints. Mikiah Brisco (hurdles, sprints) helps lead the Baton Rouge High girls.
Catherine Hodson (throws) and Annie Peek (distances) are some of the SJA athletes to watch.
The 9-1A meet should also be competitive, WSJHS coach Antoine Carter said.
“We’re probably the favorite on the boys side,” Carter said. “But we know it will be a battle with White Castle. They’ll be strong in the field and distances.
“For the girls, it could be anybody’s meet. It may come down to who has the best day.”
Softball game times
All but two regional playoff games involving BR area teams will be played Friday.
In Class 5A, No. 4 Live Oak will host Pineville at 2 p.m. Saturday, while No. 6 Dutchtown travels to H.L. Bourgeois also for a 2 p.m. Saturday game.
Second-seeded St. Amant travels to No. 18 Airline, and Walker, seeded seventh, hosts Parkway in 5A games at 5 p.m. Friday.
Top-seeded Brusly travels to South Beauregard for a 6 p.m. Friday game in Class 3A. Also in 3A, No. 11 Parkview Baptist will be at Notre Dame for a 5 p.m. game Friday.
Three Class 1A teams play at home at 4:30 p.m. Third-seeded Catholic-PC (South Cameron) and No. 18 False River Academy (Mangham) both play in New Roads. No. 8 St. John hosts Sacred Heart-Ville Platte in Plaquemine. Seventh-seeded Ascension Catholic of Class 1A team travels to Merryville for a 5 p.m. Friday contest.