There’s no way to emulate the atmosphere and there are no guarantees for some of the top-seeded teams. Yet the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 State Softball tournament is one of the most revered girls championship events.
With top-seeded Parkview Baptist of Class 3A leading a group of 12 area teams, possibilities abound starting at noon Friday with quarterfinal games at Sulphur’s Frasch Park. Semifinals and finals are Saturday. Those possibilities make it intriguing.
“You can scout, come up with game plans and practice all you want,” Live Oak coach Michelle Morris said. “It all comes down to whether or not you can execute once you get on the field on that stage.
“Some teams play their best. Sometimes it takes being better than the other team in that game. There’s a small margin for error.”
Morris knows the how it works all too well. The fifth-seeded Eagles (24-6) are part of a four-team contingent in Class 5A. LOHS plays No. 13 Pineville at 4 p.m.
An all-local match-up between second-seeded Zachary (24-5) taking on No. 7 St. Amant (26-5) also set for 4 p.m. provides one of the intriguing matchups. The teams scrimmaged in February but haven’t played in the regular season or playoffs in years.
“Leslie (Efferson-Yellott, ZHS coach) and I have known each other for a long time,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “We have a great deal of respect for that program and the things they do. We both started slow and finished strong.”
The teams have senior pitchers who also are top hitters. Baylie Doiron has helped lead Zachary to back-to-back tourney appearances. Kourtney Gremillion is batting a robust .610 for St. Amant. A total of 44 team home runs have helped Nielson’s Gators win 22 straight.
“Location is big in any game for a pitcher,” Efferson-Yellott said. “St. Amant makes it extremely tough with the way they hit up and down the order.”
Eighth-seeded Central is the Cinderella of the 5A group. The Wildcats are making their first tourney appearance since 2010 and play top-seeded Alexandria at 6 p.m.
The battle for the 5A crown is different than the norm,with fourth-seeded Mount Carmel and defending champion Sam Houston, the No. 6 seed, losing in the regional round.
A Baton Rouge area team has not won a 5A title since 2006 when St. Amant won the last of its five straight titles.
Parkview Baptist’s quest for another title is another long running saga. The Eagles last title came in 2005. PBS has played in four title games since 2008. Senior shortstop Nicky Dawson, who is batting .680, leads the PBS once again.
Like 5A, there is a different mix of teams. North Vermilion, the team that ousted Parkview in the quarterfinals last year, lost to No. 15 Lutcher in the second round.
“We’ve played three of the teams there, and I think it’s pretty even,” Parkview coach Ashlee Weems said. “I think it’s going to come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes, who steps in with confidence and whose pitcher is on.
“You can’t recreate what happens there at home. But we’ve tried by playing a tough schedule, playing loud music at practice and playing in front of bigger crowds.”
The Eagles face eighth-seeded Pine Prairie also at 2 p.m., and Weems wants her team to take on the role of the aggressor.
Brusly (22-13) was one of the last area teams to win a state title, winning 3A in 2013. The Panthers, a District 6-3A rival of PBS, play No. 3 Jena at 2 p.m.
Catholic-Pointe Coupee was the 1A champion in 2013. The eighth-seeded Hornets (14-11) meet top-seeded Oak Grove at 2 p.m. Fourth-seeded Ascension Catholic (18-8) meets No. 5 LaSalle also at 2 p.m.
“Just about all the teams you expect to see in 1A are there,” ACHS coach Brandi Manry said. “It comes down to who plays the best for two days.”