Most of the talk in Class 1A baseball this season in northeast Louisiana centered around Ouachita Christian and St. Frederick.
OCS cruised along to its accustomed slot as the top seed in the playoff bracket, while St. Frederick joined the Eagles on their perch as the two-seed.
Meanwhile, former district rival Cedar Creek toiled away in the far away land of the Shreveport-centric District 1-1A. The Cougars (29-5) flew under the radar for most of the year and locked up the seven-seed in the post season.
But with the LHSAA baseball semifinals kicking into high gear this week, there’s only one Class 1A in NELA making the trip to Sulphur — the Cedar Creek Cougars.
“It was good that nobody was talking about us because it put that extra chip on our shoulder to make sure we did our jobs and got down to Sulphur,” starting pitcher Jacob Brown said.
“We kinda got the short end of the stick with the power rankings because of the teams we play in district so we want to make sure people realize that we’re the team to beat.”
Cedar Creek coach Ben Haddox said the Cougars go as they’re seniors go and that they’ve embraced their role as the underdog.
“They’re a very tight knit group,” Haddox said. “What I appreciate is even though they’re serious about business; they keep it light in the dugout. Before games they’re always talking to the young kids and making sure they are loose. That’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
Cedar Creek’s four-man senior class is made up of third baseman Mark Van, catcher Austin McNeill, Grant Clary — the “1B” starting pitcher to Brown’s “1A”– and Jacob Antee at second base.
“We aren’t the most talented class around, but we’ve always given our best effort and that’s what’s helped us have success,” Van said.
No. 3 Central Catholic is set to be Cedar Creek’s semifinal opponent on Friday at 5 p.m. at McMurry Park. The two programs are far from regular opponents, but the coaches know each other fairly well.
“[Coach Zack Zulli] is my scouting contact for schools down south and I’m his for up north. We were joking around on the phone last night saying I guess we’ll call each other,” Haddox said.
The trip to Sulphur is the first for Cedar Creek in 11 years. The Cougars last won a state championship in 2000, which Haddox remembers well as a senior on that team. If Cedar Creek were to take home the 1A title, Haddox would join softball coach Julie Riser in having won state championship as a player and coach at the Creek.
Haddox said that “without a doubt” he hopes his four seniors can experience the feeling of being a champion in their final high school game.
“I think it’s a really neat thing for those seniors when you play your last high school game and win it,” Haddox said.
“Only seven groups of seniors in the LHSAA get to say that each year and that’s something you’ll always take with you and always remember.”