Two teams with different playoff histories will embrace the underdog’s role in a Class 5A semifinal at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Baseball tournament kicks into high gear Friday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
Semifinals in four classes will be played during a day full of action that starts at noon. Fans of Class 5A baseball in Baton Rouge will pin their hopes on fifth-seeded St. Amant High (28-9) and No. 10 Live Oak High (30-9) in the games set for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Field 41.
LOHS, making its first appearance in the 5A tourney, faces No. 3 Jesuit at 4 p.m. St. Amant takes on top-seeded Barbe-Lake Charles, a team ranked No. 1 nationally and has won 25 straight, at 7 p.m.
“We get scouting reports and put together game plans,” St. Amant coach Troy Templet said. “There really isn’t a whole lot I can tell (Gators players) about Barbe. With social media and Internet I’m sure they already know more about them than I do.
“At this point, you don’t change what you do regardless of who you play. I’d like to think that the schedule we played helped prepare us for this.”
The St. Amant-Barbe game is one that features traditional 5A powers. The Bucs (39-2) have won six titles in the 5A era. St. Amant and Jesuit (32-5) each have four titles in 5A, giving the three teams a combined total of 14 of 22 possible 5A championships.
Live Oak upset second-seeded Brother Martin on Sunday and is the x-factor in the group.
“There’s been a lot of excitement at school and in the community,” LOHS coach Greg Briggs said. “Our softball team seems to make it to the tournament and semifinals just about every year, and now I guess you could say we’re holding up our end of the bargain.
“We hit a seven-game stretch right before district when we went to Lafayette and played some of the best teams there. Then we came back and opened district (4-5A) with Denham Springs and Zachary. We didn’t win them all, but they handled the pressure.”
ST. AMANT VS. BARBE: The numbers for Barbe are daunting. Twins Beau and Bryce Jordan, both LSU signees, help lead Barbe. Beau Jordan is an outfielder who is hitting .420 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs. Bryce Jordan is a catcher who is hitting .475 with 15 doubles and 39 RBIs.
Pitcher Gunner Leger is (18-0) and is a Louisiana-Lafayette signee who is 18-0 with a 126 strikeouts and a .509 batting average with 44 RBIs. Shortstop Kennon Fontenot also is a UL-Lafayette baseball signee is hitting .489 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs.
Blaine Schexnayder leads St. Amant with a .333 average. Brennan Grant, who is 7-2 on the mound and is hitting .306. Skylar Enlow (4-2) and Connor Millet (7-0) also could also be the Gators’ starter.
Templet said he wants the Gators to be true to their identity. The SAHS coach recalls nicknaming his players the “grinders” in a 5-5A win over Catholic High.
“We know Barbe is a team that likes to put pressure on you and bunt,” Templet said. “We need to so what we do, which is throw strikes, play good defense and scratch out runs any way we can.”
LIVE OAK VS. JESUIT: The Blue Jays last won a 5A title in 2011. Pitchers C.J. Avrard (9-1) and Brandon Sequin (10-1) are the top pitchers for Jesuit. Live Oak will counter with either Hunter Merritt (6-3) or Zach Hansen (4-2).
“We know going into this that our margin for error is very small,” Briggs said. “We’ll need to be fundamentally sound. These guys have some confidence now. Beating Brother Martin last week was a huge step for us. We know we’re the No. 10 seed, and people may not expect much.”
Lenni Kunert, a junior committed to LSU, is one of two LOHS players hitting .393 on the season. Gage Lockwood is the other.
Lockwood has a team-high 29 RBIs, while shortstop Michael Claverie has 27.