Patrick Richey accepted the Sacred Heart of Ville Platte softball coaching position ostensibly to learn more about the sport.
In reality his teachers became his own players.
Richey says he’s ironically accumulated more softball knowledge through the actions of his players, who have guided the Trojans into Friday’s Class 1A softball quarterfinal against No. 2 Mangham.
Seventh-seeded Sacred Heart (15-8) arrived for the 2 p.m. Langham contest at Sulphur’s Frasch Park by defeating Highland Baptist (15-0) in a bi-district playoff game. Then the Trojans eliminated 5-1A rival St. Edmund 4-3 in last Thursday’s regional.
Mangham has reached the state tourney after eliminating White Castle and Houma Christian.
The Mangham-Sacred Heart winner meets either No. 3 Cedar Creek or sixth-seeded Hanson-Franklin in the 11 a.m. semifinal.
In both playoff games Mangham has not allowed a run.
Richey, who also teaches theology at Sacred Heart, perceives his main role has been one of what he called, “inspiration and motivation.”
So far Richey said he’s getting more from his players than anticipated.
“When I first came to Sacred Heart, I asked them whether I could take on a spring sport. (School officials) asked if I was willing to coach softball.
“I also wanted to learn more about the sport. What I’ve found out is I have learned so much more from these players. They have been wonderful to coach and I have learned a lot from them, probably more than they have learned from me,” Richey said.
Part of that learning experience has also come from playing in a tough district, one that sent all four teams into the playoffs.
The Trojans finished second in 5-1A behind district champion Catholic-Pointe Coupee.
Sacred Heart defeated St. Edmund all three times the schools met.
“There were three really good teams that we played. All of them had a really great year,” said Richey.
Richey said the Trojans have been attempting to overcome persistent fielding problems.
“I think the errors are something that go back to the girls being overly excited. Most of them shouldn’t have happened.
“We’ve kept working (at fielding). I think many of our problems can be attributed to our youth,” said Richey.
Richey said the Trojans have compensated for the fielding issues by using offense.
SHHS is batting .326 as a team and three starters are batting .400 or better.