10 local Catholic schools prepare for softball playoffs
It takes just two days for Louisiana’s finest high school softball teams to do away with each other until just seven are left holding state championship trophies.
The annual clashes of bats and balls is known as “Fast Pitch 56.”
Schools from Classes 5A through C will invade the normally quiet southwest Louisiana city of Sulphur to vie for a true and uncontested state championship April 29-30.
Thousands of prep softball fans and families converge on Frasch Park, Louisiana’s pristine palace of eight carpeted softball diamonds placed in three cloverleaf formations and spread over a large portion of the park’s 90 acres.
Frasch has been the home of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s softball championships since 2001, and there is no reason to believe it will seek another home.
Ten New Orleans-area Catholic schools are honing their skills through the final week of regular-season play. The district titles have been decided and all that had remained earlier in the week were tune-up games to pick up a few additional power points.
Teams will have to win their first two playoff games to earn their way to the Calcasieu Parish facility. Teams seeded Nos. 1 through 16 will host bi-district round games.
The baseball playoffs will begin in another week.
Breaking down the brackets
Class 5A – Alexandria (24-4) is the No. 1 seed.
Sam Houston is the defending champion.
Highest local seed is Mount Carmel (20-3, 6-0 and District 9-5A champion) at No. 2. As a similar seed in 2015, the Cubs were eliminated by No. 7 Dutchtown, 5-0, in the quarterfinal round.
The Cubs were a finalist in 2013 and a semifinalist in 2009 after winning the 5A crown in 2008.
John Curtis (19-6, 4-2 in district play), is No. 7. The Patriots won the Class 3A title in 2015 before moving up two classes.
Archbishop Chapelle (11-6, 2-4) is No. 26 at the moment. The Chipmunks lost to No. 8 Denham Springs in the 2015 bi-district round.
The 2004 state runner-up is making its fourth straight playoff appearance.
Class 4A – Revenge is on the minds of the No. 3 seed, Cabrini Crescents, whose 22-6 record and 10-0 sweep of District 9-4A has them primed to get back to Sulphur for a possible rematch with 2015 champion North DeSoto.
As a No. 20 seed, the Crescents worked their way to the semifinal round behind righthanded fireballer and 12-game winner Karli Perque. Perque pitched shutouts against No. 13 Tioga and No. 4 Lakeshore to earn a trip to the quarterfinals where her skills held off No. 5 Assumption, 3-2.
But, a brilliant performance by the junior righthander notwithstanding, North DeSoto escaped with a 1-0 victory in the semifinal round, then followed that with another 1-0 win over West Ouachita for the 4A crown.
St. Scholastica (16-7, 8-2) is currently at No. 21 after placing second to Lakeshore in District 8-4A. The Doves’ only two district losses were to the champion.
As a No. 24 seed in 2015, SSA lost to Vandebilt Catholic, 6-3, in the bi-district playoff round and has yet to get past the regional round since 2003.
Academy of Our Lady (18-8, 7-1) was knotted at the top of District 10-4A with nearby Belle Chasse, but so far is a higher seed at No. 7.
Now in their new Marrero digs, the Penguins hope to enjoy their biggest season since 2012 when they made it to the semis before losing to Leesville, 3-2, in eight innings.
Class 2A – Menard is the defending Class 2A champion and Calvary Baptist (21-4) the No. 1 seed. But two locals have shared more than a decade of success are Archbishop Hannan and St. Charles Catholic.
Since relocating to Goodbee in 2006, Hannan has won two Class 1A state championships (2010 and 2011) and was a finalist a year later. The Lady Hawks were a quarterfinalist in 2015.
District 10-2A foe Pope John Paul II (16-11, 3-3) is making its third straight playoff appearance. The Lady Jags won the 2A title in 2008.
One certainty is that St. Charles Catholic will be making the trip to Sulphur for the 14th straight year. The Lady Comets sit in the No. 5 seed at the moment and will be gunning for a fifth finals appearance since 2005.
Class 3A – De La Salle (7-9) has been a playoff contender seven times since the school became co-ed in 1992. But the Lady Cavaliers have never been seeded higher than No. 26 and are hovering at that number in the latest power rankings. The goal would be to win a first-round game.