Walker High baseball coach Randy Sandifer had no complaints about one extra chore he had to complete after Monday’s practice.
“I’m cutting the grass,” Sandifer said. “That’s not something we’ve had to do here for a while, I believe. And you know, it’s a great thing because it means we get to have a playoff game at home.”
Walker (19-11), the 16th-seed in Class 5A, hosts No. 17 Archbishop Rummel (19-11) at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a first-round playoff game that provides a milestone for the Wildcats.
Sandifer pointed out that Walker has been in the playoffs the past six years but has traveled in the first round each time. The route WHS took to Tuesday’s game wasn’t a conventional one.
A week ago, the Wildcats were the lone unbeaten team in District 4-5A. Losses to rival Denham Springs and Zachary dropped Walker into a tie for the league title with ZHS. There was still room to celebrate what is Walker’s first district title since 2005.
But the celebration was short-lived because of questions about playoff seeding and who the first-round opponent would be.
“Even though we lost those last two games, we still felt like we had a good chance to hang on to the 16th seed and host,” Sandifer said. “Figuring out who we were going to play was another matter.
“There was a lot of movement in the power ratings. I’m not sure many (5A) coaches went to bed Saturday thinking they knew for sure who they were going to play.”
Rummel, a traditional baseball power from the Catholic League, also has something to prove after losing in the first round last season. Sandifer said several Rummel players are set to play in college. The best-known player is catcher Chase Fourcade, who quarterbacked the Raiders to the Division I football title game last fall.
Noah Danburg (5-2) gets the start for Walker. Outfielder Kyle Nevels is the top hitter with a .347 batting average.
“Rummel is one of the most successful programs in the state year in and year out,” Sandifer said. “We know it won’t be easy. To have this chance to play at home means a lot to the players, their families and the community.”
St. Michael milestones
It’s been an eventful few days for coach Johnny Bernhard and first baseman Michael Smith.
Second-seeded St. Michael (20-7-1) hosts No. 31 DeRidder (13-15) at 4 p.m. Tuesday having already accomplished some notable things before the Class 4A playoffs begin.
Bernhard picked up his 200th career victory when the Warriors beat Parkview Baptist on Saturday to close out the regular season. The No. 2 playoff seed is the highest in school history.
Smith committed to Baton Rouge Community College over the weekend and will sign with the Bears at 9 a.m. Thursday in the school’s library. Smith is hitting .404 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs.
Coaches, role reversal
Denham Springs High got the better of Destrehan High a year ago when the two Class 5A teams played in a best-of-three-games regional playoff series.
The 12th-seeded Wildcats (23-8) will perhaps be looking deliver a little payback when the teams meet again at 4 p.m. Tuesday at DHS.
Denham Springs (18-11) is the 21st seed this time around for the contest that has a match-up within the matchup.
DSHS coach Mark Carroll and Destrehan coach Chris Mire have matched up before, including when Mire was head coach at District 4-5A rival Central five years ago. Mire coached Central in the LHSAA’s 5A baseball tournament at Tulane in 2010.