If it were up to the coaches, the vast majority of them would prefer to face someone other than a district opponent during their quest for a state championship.
Although North Vermilion’s Richard Prejean and Kaplan’s Shay Herpin are among those coaches, the alternatives for opponents in the Class 3A quarterfinals aren’t much better.
“Once you get to this point in the season all of the teams remaining are going to be very good,” Prejean said. “I would rather not face a district opponent, but I also wouldn’t want to have to pick from any of the other teams remaining in the bracket. There are no bad teams left. Who do you want to play – John Curtis, Evangel, Buckeye, Notre Dame, Jena or Brusly? It’s kind of a pick your poison.”
“At this point, if your goal is to win a state championship you are going to have to face them all anyway,” Herpin said. “You’re going to have to face good teams to get where you want to anyway.”
So, for the third and final time this season, the No. 7-seeded Lady Patriots and the No. 2-seeded Lady Pirates will face each other at 2 p.m. Friday on Field 15 at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
But unlike in their previous two meetings, only the winner will play a next game as the loser’s season will come to an end.
“Our kids know them and their kids know us,” Herpin said. “They know all of our tendencies and we know their tendencies. North Vermilion is obviously a very good team because they are playing in the quarterfinals. They have a very good pitcher, they swing the bats well and they are well-coached. It’s going to be a very good game.”
“I think this game is evenly matched,” Prejean said. “We know that they are very aggressive on the bases and they are very scrappy. This year more than in years past, they play a lot of small ball. That along with pitching and defense is what is going to carry them.”
In the circle for the Lady Patriots will be junior Hannah Vidallier, while the Lady Pirates will send out Abby Trahan.
Both coaches agree that this game will likely be different from the first two times they met this year.
“They are a different team than the team we faced in the second round of district,” Herpin said. “We are also a different team. We are both evenly matched and I believe this game will come down to which team makes the most mistakes.”
“The key for us is to not be too excited about the atmosphere and to remain even keeled,” Prejean said. “I’m anxious to see how we are going to handle adversity when it comes and how we are going to respond to it. It’s going to be a good game.”
No. 5 Buckeye vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
It was a little more than a year ago that Buckeye and Notre Dame were locked in a shootout at the state softball tournament, as the two teams combined for 28 runs in a contest that was eventually won 16-12 by the Lady Pios and propelled them into the Class 3A state finals.
Although a trip to the state finals won’t be on the line, Buckeye and Notre Dame will meet at 12 p.m. today on Field 15 in the state softball tournament at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
“Everyone is really excited about being back in the state softball tournament,” Lady Pios head coach Dusty Collette said. “We are familiar with Buckeye after playing them last year and they are in a similar situation as us in that they return almost everyone from last year’s team. Buckeye has a very good pitcher and they can flat out hit the laces off of the ball. We know facing them is going to be a battle.”
But the Lady Pios are more than capable of doing damage with the bats as well and Collette admits he is excited about the way his team is playing entering the tournament.
“Everyone is really positive and feeling really good about where we are right now,” Collette said. “I feel like we are hitting on all cylinders right now and this is a good time to be doing so. We are peaking at the right time.”
After falling short last year in the state finals where they were defeated 5-3 by Brusly, Collette believes his Lady Pios are chomping at the bit to make another run at a state title.
“I think the girls feel we have some unfinished business,” Collette said. “I told them last year to remember how they felt after losing in the finals and make it a point not to ever feel like that again. They didn’t want it to end and that’s why I told them we have to go there this year and bring our ‘A’ game every game so that we don’t feel like we felt at the end of last year.”