The Shreveport-Bossier area is still winless in the high school baseball playoffs, but Thursday’s action appears more promising for the first local win.
Two local Class 4A teams are in action as No. 4 Benton (26-8) will be the heavy favorite hosting No. 29 South Terrebonne (15-15) while No. 24 Loyola (13-19) heads down for a rematch with No. 8 Tioga (19-12).
Airline and Byrd lost on the road in Class 5A on Tuesday while Calvary dropped a home game Wednesday.
The title-contending Tigers will likely take care of business in the first round at 4 p.m., but a surging Loyola group likes their chances against a Tioga team that beat the Flyers 11-0 on March 15 at Tioga.
“When we played Tioga, we were two or three players down and we had just lost to Ouachita on a walk-off,” said Loyola coach Rob Fenwick. “We were dead, (Tioga) is very good at bunting, and we threw it around the infield like we do sometimes.
“But this team is very confident now, and maybe Tioga will be overlooking us after they beat us earlier.”
Loyola has turned their season around after a 4-17 start against a tough schedule chocked full of Class 5A teams.
The Flyers lost their first three district games before gutting out a 13-inning win against North DeSoto, sparking a 9-2 mark in their last 11 games.
“I just told them to be resilient and to keep fighting,” Fenwick said. “Whitt Walker hasn’t given up a run since district play started, and he’s going to be my starter (Thursday).
“If we don’t make mistakes and our pitching shows up, we can win it.”
Austin Townsend (.337 average, 22 RBIs) and Tatum Peters (20 RBIs and 12 doubles) have been fairly consistent bats in a lineup that’s done enough down the stretch.
But Walker (3-4, 1.65 ERA), Nathan Jones (3-5, 2.53 ERA) and Townsend (2-4, 3.50 ERA) formed the backbone of a pitching staff that’s kept Loyola in games.
Loyola finished third in District 1-4A ahead of Northwood, who is hosting a home game on Friday. Minden placed second and is also hosting a first-round game Friday.
The Flyers have reached the quarterfinals twice (2012, 2010) in the past four seasons.
Benton returned a lot of its guns from its quarterfinals appearance this past season.
Class B fanfare
While not many local teams are playing Thursday, five of seven area Class B teams are in action.
No. 5 Florien (17-8) hosts Hicks (2-17) at 6 p.m.; No. 8 Stanley (16-11) welcomes No. 25 Harrisonburg (7-17) at 5 p.m.; No. 9 Converse (15-11) brings in No. 24 Evans (11-12) at 5 p.m.; No. 21 Castor (8-13) travels to No. 12 Quitman (13-12) at 4 p.m. and No. 26 Doyline (9-18) heads to No. 7 Glenmora (16-5) at 5 p.m.
Converse advanced the furthest of all area Class B teams, making the quarterfinals this past season.