Although power ratings have changed the face of the state baseball playoffs, they have not taken away the importance of district play.
“There are always a couple of goals you set out to accomplish,” Evangel coach Tim Hulett said. “Winning the district title is one. You want to play well in the early tournaments, win the district and get to the playoffs. There’s still a lot of importance on the district.”
Hulett’s Eagles open District 1-2A play at home Thursday against Calvary.
A season ago, Evangel swept Calvary, the eventual 2A state champions, in district play. Those games came later in the district cycle. Thursday’s matchup at Durwood Rust Field is the district opener for both teams.
“I kind of like it,” Hulett said. “You come off playing the tournaments early in the year, and you’re facing good teams. It’s good to go right into another good game. You’re probably more prepared for it.”
Joining District 1-2A in starting league play this week is District 1-5A.
After years of having a clear-cut favorite atop the district, things appear different this time around.
“It looks like everybody is competitive,” Captain Shreve coach Todd Sharp said. “Anybody can beat anybody. We always say it, but it’s more of a true statement this year.”
Sharp’s Gators are 10-8 entering Thursday’s district opener against Southwood, which has been designated as the Gators’ Pink Out game to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
While non-district and district games count the same in the power ratings, district season allows teams a rebirth of sorts.
“Everybody is 0-0,” Haughton coach Glenn Maynor said. “If you get hot for five weeks, you can win the thing. The teams at the top are down a little bit, the teams at the bottom got a little better. More than ever, it’s a wide-open district. Almost every game will be a toss-up.”
The Crimson Tide’s fast start hit a little speed bump last weekend at the Bastrop tournament.
Minden went 1-2 in northeast Louisiana, part of a 2-3 span after a nine-game win streak.
“We’re moving along, and all of a sudden, you have one bad weekend,” Minden coach Dean Francis said. “I tell my kids, you learn more from a loss than from a win.”
The trip to Bastrop was part of a road-heavy, non-district schedule for Francis’ team. That continues tonight when the Crimson Tide faces Calvary in Shreveport.
Minden will play one non-tournament, non-district home game before it starts District 1-4A play next week against Northwood. That home game comes Saturday against parish rival North Webster.
“We had the luxury last year of everybody coming to us,” Francis said of the scheduling oddity. “I owed everyone a home game. We’ve been on the road a lot. It was our first trip to Bastrop, but it was good. When you go on the road in the playoffs, if you’re fortunate enough to make it, you want to know how your kids are going to spend the night. It wasn’t a long trip to Bastrop, but we spent Friday night there and got up Saturday and played.”