Burke Broussard’s past two trips to the campus of Louisiana-Monroe haven’t been the most favorable experiences.
The University High coach led his Cubs to the semifinals of the Class 2A baseball playoffs in 2008 and 2009 but lost both contests to Evangel Christian by a combined score of 16-3.
Friday, No. 4 U-High will make its first trip to Warhawk Field since those defeats when it takes on top-seeded Calvary Baptist in another semifinal game, but this time Broussard is hoping for a much different result.
“It kind of plays through your mind a little bit,” Broussard said of the 0-2 record at ULM. “But this is a whole new group, a whole new year.
“Hopefully we can be a little more lucky than we have been the last few times we were at ULM.”
It’s not the entire city of Monroe that has hurt the Cubs though. U-High swept through a four-game tournament at Ouachita Christian earlier this season, producing double-digit runs in three of them.
Baseball players are notoriously superstitious, and the Cubs are embracing that as they head back to north Louisiana with a shot at reaching the state championship game.
“We’re staying in the same hotel we stayed in earlier in the year with the same guys rooming together,” Broussard said. “Baseball players are creatures of habit so we’re going to stick to that. They asked me, so I’m going to do it for them. I think we’re better prepared to handle it.”
Based on the regular season, the Cubs certainly seem ready to get over the Monroe hump. U-High has already made the record books with its school-record 28 wins this season.
Their six losses have been by a combined 12 runs.
“We’re very excited because our classification is really tough top-to-bottom,” Broussard said. “Going into each year, you hope you have a chance to get to the tournament and play for it all, so we’re very fortunate. Our kids are very excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
The task at hand Friday won’t be any easier. Calvary Baptist (23-3) has been atop the Class 2A power ratings the entire season, giving up five runs or more just twice all season.
The Cavaliers haven’t surrendered a run in the postseason, but Broussard said he doesn’t expect his squad to be intimidated or nervous.
The 15-year U-High coach — who made a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., in his playing days at LSU — added his team has taken a “work hard, play hard” approach to this week’s preparations, saying he wants his kids to enjoy the whole experience of playoff baseball.
“This is a pretty loose group, and I’m a pretty high-strung type of guy,” Broussard said. “I’m very organized and oriented, and they kind of take me down a little bit, which is good. We’re a good mix.
“We’re going to get our work done, but we’re going to have a good time too and enjoy this experience no matter what happens.”
First pitch is slated for 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to play the winner of No. 3 Evangel and No. 15 Kinder.
Sophomore starter Manny Miles will take the mound for the Cubs on Friday, and Broussard said he is the perfect man for the job.
“If you know Manny’s personality, he’s just so loosey-goosey; that this just kind of plays right into his personality,” Broussard said.
“He’s pitched a lot of big games this year and kind of lives in the moment of that.”