In theory, the Slidell softball team — with an 18-4 overall record and a 12-0 mark in District 6-5A — would be one of the top seeds in the Class 5A playoff bracket.
But in reality, the Tigers are seeded 16th of the 32 teams in Class 5A that made the postseason. Brackets in all seven classifications were released Thursday.
Few games figure to be as closely-contested as Slidell’s opening-round matchup against 17th seeded East Ascension. The Spartans (17-10, 7-3) are led by college signees Claire Weinberger (LSU), Jessie Watts (Louisiana-Monroe), and Verlencia Jakcson (Mississippi Valley State). Slidell has a future college player in first baseman Hannah Stockstill (Bossier Parish Community College) but has had a number of players step up when needed this season.
Slidell coach Robin Herdliska said her team figured it would be seeded right about where it wound up, and that actually plays well into the Tigers’ approach this season.
“We watched the power rankings all along and knew where we stood,” she said. “We were supposed to play St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday, and if we win that and I’m doing my math right, we would have been 13th. We lose, we would have been 17th. That’s the chance you take. But their field was unplayable, so we’ll stay where we are. … Our focus all year has been to not get ahead of ourselves. It’s one game at a time.”
Still, the difference between 16 and 17 is huge, Herdliska said. After all, it’s the difference between hosting and traveling. Slidell will host East Ascension at 4:30 p.m. Monday. The Spartans reached the Class 5A semifinals last season.
“It means a lot to be at home,” she said. “You’re familiar with your surroundings. But either way, we’re going to play our type of ball. East Ascension is good and with (coach) Amy Pitre. … All her teams are really well coached.”
Also in Class 5A, fourth-ranked Mount Carmel is the highest-seeded New Orleans area team in that bracket. The Cubs will host No. 29 Parkway. Other local matchups in Class 5A include No. 24 Fontainebleau at No. 9 John Curtis at 5 p.m. Tuesday and No. 10 Hahnville vs. No. 22 Chapelle. Also reaching the playoffs were Destrehan (22nd), Chalmette (25th) and Mandeville (32nd), which will travel to top-seeded Alexandria.
In Class 4A, Cabrini (23-6, 10-0 in District 9-4A,) is seeded third. The Crescents will host No. 30 Minden in an opening- round game.
Cabrini coach Shannon Austin said that no matter where her team is seeded, the girls know they have to play well in every remaining game to win a championship.
“The team finished strong, and I think we’re prepared,” Austin said. “But you can’t just look at seedings. Two years ago, we were No. 1, and we didn’t make it to Sulphur (and the state tournament.) Last year, we were seeded 20th, and we did made it. We have to keep working.”
Belle Chasse is seeded ninth in Class 4A, and Lakeshore is 15th and will host Vandebilt Catholic at 5 p.m. Tuesday. St. Scholastica, seeded 22nd travels to Beau Chene for a 5 p.m. Monday game. Karr is seeded 31st. No. 10 seed Academy of Our Lady will host No. 23 Ursuline.
Lutcher (15th) and De La Salle (27th) are the only New Orleans-area teams in the Class 3A bracket. Eight of the 32 teams in the Class 2A bracket, however, are local.
Riverside leads the way at No. 5, and the Rebels will host No. 28 Pope John Paul II. Hannan is seeded sixth and will host Bunkie at 5 p.m. Tuesday. St. Charles Catholic is seeded eighth and Thomas Jefferson is 16th. Teams going on the road for the Class 2A playoffs include Fisher (17th,) Haynes (23rd,) and Northlake Christian (24th). Northlake travels to Mangham for a 4 p.m. Monday game.
The 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Softball Fast Pitch 56 Tournament will be April 29-30 at Frasch Park in Sulphur. The top eight teams in each of the seven state classifications make the trip.