Normally, Live Oak High hosting Denham Springs High for a District 4-5A baseball opener would be the matchup people would focus on.
Not on this Tuesday. And not when two major softball games also are on the schedule. In fact, Denham Springs takes on Live Oak in one of the two softball showdowns. St. Amant hosts East Ascension in a 5-5A showdown.
“There’s no shortage of good games,” LOHS baseball coach Greg Briggs said. “It’s that time of the year.”
LOHS (12-6) hosts Denham Springs (11-5) at 6:30 p.m. at the Live Oak Sports Complex to begin what will be a complicated baseball week for the host Eagles. In addition to hosting DSHS on Tuesday, Live Oak plays another 4-5A power, Zachary, on Thursday.
East Ascension (12-3, 2-0) travels to unbeaten St. Amant (12-0, 2-0) for one of the two key softball showdowns set for 5 p.m. Denham Springs (11-3, 1-0) hosts Live Oak (13-2, 3-0) at North Park in the other.
“When you have East Ascension and St. Amant playing each other in anything, you can draw a crowd,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “It could be tiddly winks. I told our team today at practice, ‘If you can’t get up for this one, what can you get up for?’ ”
Live Oak softball coach Michelle Morris had just a short time to catch a breath after her Eagles notched an 11-10 come-from-behind victory over Walker High on Monday night.
“When we play a team like (Denham Springs), it’s like looking at ourselves,” Morris said. “Denham Springs definitely has speed on their side along with some players who can hit the ball out. And so do we.”
DENHAM SPRINGS AT LIVE OAK: Both teams played in the Lafayette-based Atchafalaya Challenge last weekend. The tourney leaves both coaches with questions about their pitching.
Briggs originally planned to start Zach Hansen, but now may use a combination of Hansen and third baseman Lenni Kunert. Shortstop Michael Claverie and Kunert are each hitting around .500 to lead the Eagles offense.
DSHS coach Mark Carroll is pondering his options but will likely call on Bailey Holstein to start. Outfielder-closer Travis Swaggerty is batting around .400 to help lead the DSHS offense along with Holstein, who is hitting over .300.
“The thing we have to do is make routine plays and get timely hits,” Carroll said. “Live Oak is not the kind of team that makes mistakes.”
EAST ASCENSION AT ST. AMANT: The Gators have successfully retooled their lineup after graduating seven seniors who signed with colleges last season.
“Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have players who’ve stepped into starting roles and played well,” St. Amant’s Nielson said. “This year we’ve got a bunch of them who have played very well. Obviously, this is going to be a big week for us.”
East Ascension beat the other Ascension power Dutchtown last week to help start 5-5A play. St. Amant hosts the Spartans on Tuesday and travels to Dutchtown on Thursday.
“Last year when we played St. Amant, it came down to one big play both times,” EAHS coach Amy Pitre said. “I don’t expect anything different this year. Both teams know what’s at stake.”
SAHS pitcher Gabrielle Sharp is 9-0 this season and 22-0 for her career. East Ascension’s Jessie Watts (12-3) has 85 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched and also is hitting .444 with four home runs and 31 RBIs, including two in Monday’s 14-0 win over 3A Brusly.
Shortstop Kara Gremillion leads the a .590 average, while sister and first baseman Kourtney Gremillion is at .564 with 25 RBIs. EAHS shortstop Claire Weinberger hits .554 with 26 runs scored.
LIVE OAK VS. DENHAM SPRINGS: Holly Morrison (7-1) gets the start for DSHS and has an offense led by outfielders Brittany Case (.606 batting average) and Harley Crow (.460).
“Live Oak is the kind of team you can’t make a mistake against,” DSHS coach David Bourque said. “They are good at exposing and capitalizing on them.”
Live Oak relies on the pitching duo of Amanda Holliday and Savannah Hall. Third-baseman Gisselle Ash (.500) and Allie Howard (.400) are top hitters for the Eagles.