Long road, big hopes: Iowa, St. Louis Catholic chasing state titles
Iowa and St. Louis Catholic have played the role of road warriors all season without home fields because of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Beating the odds, each team now finds itself two wins away from hoisting a trophy at the LHSAA state baseball tournament this week at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
Iowa (22-15) has played games on more a dozen fields this season and is looking for its first state title since 2007. They were the runner-up in 2012 and 2017.
“We are going to have to do it together,” Iowa head coach Daniel Hennigan said. “We don’t have a place to go.
“We have to make our home where ever it is. Home is where we are. Coach (James) Estes at Jennings told us earlier that it was going to help us down the road. I told him he was crazy, but he may have been right.”
St. Louis (23-11) is making its first trip to Sulphur since 2017 and looking to continue the championship trend that St. Louis has set this season. The school has already won state titles in boys’ tennis and golf and girls’ indoor track, basketball and outdoor track.
“I think what is interesting with as much adversity that our campus has seen with teams scattered, the athletes have found a way to be resilient through out the year in all sports,” St. Louis head coach Matt Fontenot said. “It has become a theme here on campus to maximize what we have.
“I hope our kids keep that same momentum. I think we are now just starting to see some of the fruits of the relationship building over the last year and a half. These kids love each other and play as a competitive group. They enjoy competing together and now they are starting to win.”
Iowa started the season 1-3 but steadily built up momentum, especially a 9-6 win over St. Louis to close out the regular season.
Iowa plays defending 3A champ No. 1 Sterlington (31-5) on today at 6 p.m.
“As far as Sterlington, they are really good 1-9,” Hennigan said. “They can pitch, hit for power and bunt.
“They can do it all. We just have to play the game as right as we can and as long as we can and see what happens in the sixth and seventh inning. We can’t get behind in the count and let any guys on the bases without earning it. We can’t change our approach at the plate. We have to stick to the plan and weather the storm. If they make a mistake, we have to take advantage of it.”
Division II No. 2 St. Louis Catholic faces No. 3 Vandebilt Catholic (27-6) at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The Terriers are coached by former DeRidder head coach Chad Menard, who led the Dragons to the 4A finals in 2018.
“He (Menard) is going to have a well disciplined club,” Fontenot said. “It is the state tournament so anything can happen. At this point, you turn the scoreboard on and see what happens.”
The Saints have won 16 of their last 17 games.
Opposite St. Louis and Vandebilt Catholic is No. 1 Parkview Baptist (32-1) and No. 5 Teurlings Catholic (19-14), who will play at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Parkview was undefeated until losing Game 1 of its quarterfinal series with No. 8 E.D. White, but rebounded by winning 5-2 and 9-6 Saturday.
Teurlings is looking for its first state title since winning three consecutive from 2016 to 2018, while Parkview hasn’t won one since 2013.
In the other 3A semifinal, No. 3 Lutcher (27-6) will face No. 7 Brusly (17-16), who upset No. 2 South Beauregard in a close quarterfinal series, at 2 p.m. today.
Iowa junior infielder Koltin LeBleu went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a double in the Yellow Jackets 14-11 win in Game 3 of its Class 3A quarterfinal series against Iota Saturday.
Senior relief pitcher Chase Wilson pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings Saturday in St. Louis Catholic’s 11-5 win over St. Michael the Archangel in a best-of-three Division II quarterfinal series.