Round-robin district baseball schedules are a thing of the past, and no one seems happier about it than the coaches.
The home-and-home format, in which teams play two district games against the same opponent in one week, helps develop pitching as well as prepare teams for the playoffs, they say.
The format is front and center this week with key matchups in districts 7-3A and 5-5A.
Parkview Baptist (11-11, 1-1) split its District 7-3A opening games last week against West Feliciana, and hosts University High at 6:30 Tuesday. The Cubs (14-6, 2-0) swept their games against Port Allen.
Catholic High (21-2) has a nine-game winning streak as it opens District 5-5A with a home game against St. Amant (11-9), at 6:30 p.m. Like Parkview and U-High, the teams will swap home fields for a return game Thursday.
“I really like playing the same opponent back to back in the same week,” CHS coach Brad Bass said. “It’s very similar to the playoff format where you play a team best two out of three. The way our district is set up, it gives you an opportunity to see that before the playoffs.”
Parkview coach Darron Mitchell likes the playoff atmosphere, and also the challenge it provides his pitchers.
“I think it makes the better team come out on either side,” Mitchell said. “It makes you develop a pitching staff instead of having just one guy you can rely on, especially in this district.”
Testing a team’s entire pitching staff seems to make good sense to U-High coach Justin Morgan.
“When districts used the old format, you would play everybody through one time, and then play everybody through a second time. In that case, you could catch somebody’s No. 1 pitcher twice.”
Catholic will start Kyle Candelora in Tuesday’s contest. Candelora (4-0) has on 0.48 ERA in 29 innings. Offensively, the Bears leaders are Josh Smith, batting .450, Charles Soileau (.375) and Brandon Fairbanks (.345).
“They’re a great team,” St. Amant coach Troy Templet said of Catholic. “They have several guys that will be playing college ball later on. It’s going to be a great challenge for us this week.”
St. Amant’s Payton Holland will take the mound Tuesday. Shortstop Brock Bowen leads the Gators at the plate (.438) with support from second baseman Adam Sevario (.429) and left fielder Justin Duhon (.371).
University High will throw Jacob McCain and Manny Miles, with McCain getting the nod in the first game.
“Nobody’s really taken the torch, and said, ‘I’m the guy,’ ” Morgan said of his pitching staff. “But I feel comfortable with any of our guys. All of our guys have given us a chance to win this year.”
Top hitters for the Cubs are center fielder Seth Daugherty, the leadoff man, and shortstop Jake Wharton, who bats third.
Parkview’s hard-throwing right-hander Adam Tarver will start the first game. Tarver is also among the Eagles’ leading hitters along with Hunter Joubert, Hayden Nickens, Sam O’Brien and Pryce Fletcher.
“We’re starting to swing the bats, and our average is slowly climbing,” Mitchell said. “Of course, everybody’s does as the weather gets warmer, and you get used to seeing arms.”