Iowa has its act together and S. Beau can do no wrong in postseason

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2024

At one point this high school baseball season, the defending nonselect Division II state champion’s playoff outlook was not particularly strong. But No. 12 Iowa fixed its problems in time and is one win from the finals.

Iowa (22-12) will play No. 1 Lutcher (29-7) in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. today at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

Just weeks before the postseason began, Iowa was 10-9 after losing a 7-2 decision to nonselect Division III quarterfinalist Westlake on March 24. Iowa has since won 11 of its last 14 games.

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“We talked about it in the middle of the year when we were kind of not where we thought we should be,” Iowa head coach Daniel Hennigan said. “We were borderline not going to make the playoffs. I think we were the 20 seed, or something like that at one point.

“Our conversation was, it doesn’t really matter where we go in. We just have to get in. At some point you have to upset somebody to win a state championship, so cool let’s just get in. We started playing a lot better. Maybe it was less pressure or maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but I do think that it helps these guys have experienced how exciting it is and how loud May can be. They have an idea of what is going on.”

Iowa found the consistency it needed in the postseason, sweeping two of three series.

“It has been consistency and not overplaying and not trying to do too much,” Hennigan said. “We have to stick to the fundamentals and let that guide us in what we do given the circumstance.”

Hennigan said he plans to start Cole Corbello on the mound, while he expects the Bulldogs will counter with Marshall Louque. Corbello is 2-0 in three postseason starts with one earned run in 21 innings.

“Like we have talked about with our guys,” Hennigan said. “It is Cole’s turn in the rotation.

“He has had the most rest, but we have no problem with any of our three pitchers. So if we have to flip people around, we think just as high of (Reed) Dupre as Corbello or (Tyler) Dartez. All three have won really big games for us.

“(Lutcher is) always in the dance. They have some really good players. I think their coach is top notch. Marshall Louque is their big arm, and he is also really good offensively. They really rally around the Louque kid.”

Lutcher lost in the quarterfinals last season after winning a state championship in 2022.

Nonselect Division III

Everything has been going right for No. 1 South Beauregard in the postseason, and it hopes that continues as the Golden Knights face No. 5 Doyle at 11 a.m. today.

“We are excited, the kids are excited and the community is excited,” South Beauregard head coach Jeremy Deville said. “Hopefully we have a good showing and take care of business.”

In four postseason games, the Knights (29-3) have outscored opponents 45-2, and one game went the full seven innings.

“We have been pitching well,” Deville said. “We have been playing good defense and throwing a lot of strikes.

“Offensively, we have put up some runs whether it is just hitting the ball, having good bats, or getting baserunners on and bunt. We apply pressure in any way we can. The kids don’t care if they get a hit, they just want to get on base. I feel if we can do that (today), we have a good chance.”

South Beauregard has won 14 consecutive games.

Doyle (20-13) knocked off the Knights 3-1 in the semifinals last year on the way to a fourth consecutive finals appearance.

“They are a solid team,” Deville said of the Fighting Tigers. “They have a good arm, a good lefty, Caiden Barcia. He pitched in the final for him last year. He is a good left-handed pitcher.

“We have had some success against lefties. Our approach at the plate has changed this year. The kids have bought in and we have had a lot of success. We just have to go execute and play our baseball. Our motto has been the next pitch and don’t worry about anything else.”

Deville said the Knights will go with either Jace Duhon (9-2) or Clayton Foolkes (9-0) on the mound. The duo has allowed one earned run in 22 innings in the postseason.