In this edition of the Strike Zone, staff writer Rodrick Anderson and Warren Arceneaux discuss the quarterfinal round of the high school baseball playoffs.
Which large school has the most interesting matchup?
WA: Barbe, the top seed in Class 5A, which hosts district rival Acadiana. The No. 8 Rams have allowed two runs in three playoff games. Barbe's pitching has been nearly as good with three runs allowed. The Bucs won both regular-season games but needed to rally from a 4-1 deficit in the second game.
RA: No. 15 Brusly at No. 10 Iowa. For a third consecutive year, the Yellow Jackets and the Panthers will meet in the playoffs. Brusly got best of Iowa last year in the quarterfinals while Iowa run-ruled Brusly in the semifinals in 2017. Iowa gets the advantage of being at home for the best-of-three series.
What's the best small schools quarterfinal matchup?
WA: No. 13 French Settlement at No. 5 Kinder. This series could turn into a slugfest as each team has scored double-digit runs in three of their four playoff games. Both rallied last week from a Game 1 loss, with French Settlement winning at DeQuincy.
RA: No. 2 Oak Grove at No. 10 Merryville. Merryville seems to always rise to the occasion and will need that mentality again when it meets Oak Grove in the quarterfinals for a second consecutive year. Last year Merryville beat three top-six teams, including Oak Grove 4-1, on its way to its first state baseball championship. Merryville escaped with a 4-3 win over Jonesboro-Hodge in the regional round but will have to up its game offensively to match Oak Grove, which has scored 30 runs in its last two games.
Name a player to watch.
WA: The Reeves tandem of Ethan LeBlanc and Nate Reeves starred in the Raiders' 11-2 regional-round win over Hackberry. LeBlanc struck out 12 while pitching a complete-game one-hitter and drove in three runs. Reeves added a pair of RBIs and scored four runs. The No. 5 Raiders play at No. 13 Kilbourne on Friday with a chance to punch their ticket to the state tournament.
RA: Iowa first baseman Nick Reed's hot bat will come in handy this weekend as the Yellow Jackets look to return to the state tournament in Sulphur for the first time since 2017. After going hitless in Game 1 of a best-of-three series against Albany, he went 4-for-7 with three runs and five RBIs in two games Saturday.