For a softball program that turned 16 this season, Vermilion Catholic co-head coach Kim Guidry said she knows the exact place to celebrate such a milestone.

The Eagles, who have advanced to the Fast Pitch 56 state tournament on three previous occasions, would love nothing more than to erase the program’s eight-year drought with a trip to Sulphur.

“We felt we were at the door last year and kind of feel the same way this year,” Guidry said. “It’s basically the same team. We’re hoping they give us 110 percent, and we’ll see what happens.”

No. 7 Vermilion Catholic (18-5) gets the opportunity to punch its ticket for Sulphur when the Eagles host No. 10 St. John-Plaquemine (14-9) in a Class 1A state regional at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Should the game get rained out, it would be pushed back to 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We felt last year we had a decent chance,” Guidry said. “We went to St. Mary’s (4-3 regional loss) and it was a dogfight that could have gone either way.”

Seventh-seeded Northside Christian (10-6) of Crowley will also be at home Thursday, hosting No. 10 Dodson (7-9) in a Class C state regional contest at 4:30 p.m.

VC won its first 10 games and wound up going 11-2 in District 7-1A play to finish runner-up to Hanson Memorial.

Guidry said an earlier-than-usual exit from the state basketball playoffs enabled the softball team that counts on some of the same players to get off to a quicker start.

The Eagles were also more active in tournament play this year, going 5-0 in tournaments at Hanson and Catholic-New Iberia before falling to Archbishop Hannan and Notre Dame of Crowley — both of whom are alive in the Class 2A playoffs — in the All-Catholic tournament.

“This year we played more tournaments and more games and I think our kids have responded,” Guidry said. “It shows what hard work and dedication can do. We’re hoping to get it to one more level.”

VC showed signs of maturity in being able to handle district foe Highland Baptist – 10-0 – for a third time this season in the first round of playoffs.

Left fielder Bella Doucet went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while second baseman Sadie Boudreaux and shortstop Ainsley Mallet each had two hits and drove in runs in support of winning pitcher Taylor Abshire’s three-hit shutout.

Mallet, a freshman, is one of four players batting .500 or better with a .613 average and six doubles followed by Doucet (.585, two homers, 30 RBIs), junior first baseman Zanesia Bernard (.566, two homers, 17 RBIs) and Abshire (.527, two homers, 12 RBIs).

“We’re excited to be here,” Guidry said. “They’ve shown some potential. Sometimes because of our youth we can be a little inconsistent. I think we’ve worked out all of those kinks and are ready to go forward. They’re excited to be at home and had a good following last game.”