Finals week: Unpredictable district races heat up

CLOSE CALL: As the last week of the high school baseball regular season dawns, there’s a lot on the line for many of the local teams.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

It’s the final week of high school baseball and if there is one thing we’ve learned so far it’s that we haven’t learned anything.

Results that don’t seem to make sense. Scores that are outlandish. But the craziest could still be yet to come.

How about this scenario? If Haughton, currently tied for third place at 8-4, were to win both games against first-place Parkway (10-2) and second-place Benton (9-3) wins both games against Natchitoches Central this week, Benton would win the District 1-5A championship.

That’s the same Benton team that’s lost not one, but two, district games by 16 runs. And both of them at home.

Or this — right now, Parkway is sitting on top of the standings, yet has district losses by scores of 13-1 (Byrd) and 19-6 (Benton).

“That’s just kind of how our district is,” said Airline coach Toby Todd. “It’s a really a balanced district and sometimes you just get hot out of nowhere.”

“It’s baseball, and it’s a combination of that and 15- and 16-year-olds,” said Benton coach Dane Peavy. “You never know what you are going to get from one game to the next.”

“Shreve obliterated us,” said Haughton coach Glenn Maynor of his team’s losses of 11-1 and 6-1 to the fifth-place Gators two weeks ago. “I mean, we didn’t even compete against them. You just don’t know what to expect. Actually, it makes it kind of fun.”

It’s a race to the finish line to decide the district champions in 1-5A as well as 1-4A, but does it really matter? Some will tell you that with the implementation of the power point system, district races don’t matter.

“It’s cool to hang a banner and all of that,” Maynor said. “But if it comes down to it, I’d rather have a home playoff game, even if you don’t win the district. But it definitely does mean something.”

So there’s more than one battle to fight as the final week of the regular season plays out.

Here’s a look at some of the teams in the mix (the top 16 seeds get a first-round home playoff game).

DISTRICT 1-5A

Parkway (10-2): The Panthers are the hottest team right now, winning eight straight overall. Parkway is at Haughton on Tuesday and home against the Bucs Thursday. There are also two non-district games on the schedule. Current district standing: 1. Current power ranking: 13

Benton (9-3): The Tigers have two with Natchitoches-Central and have won 11 of the last 13. The 6-5 loss to Parkway on March 31 could end up being the decisive district title game. It is possible that the Tigers could win the district title and not get a home playoff game. Current district standing: 2. Current power ranking: 20

Haughton (8-4): The Bucs have been all over the place lately, winning four in a row after losing three in a row. They have two with Parkway this week but have the highest current power ranking in the district. Current district standing: T-3. Current power ranking: 9

Airline (8-4): Considering how the district has gone, it’s not a surprise that the Vikings beat Benton 18-1 and then lost two days later to the Tigers 7-2. They get Shreve twice this week with Tuesday night coming on the road. They are in a battle for a home playoff game.

Current district standing: T-3. Current power ranking: 17

Captain Shreve (6-6): The Gators are out of the district race but have everything to play for as they try to secure a playoff berth. They could get major power point boosts with two games against Airline and a non-district game at Loyola on Friday. Current district standing: 5. Current power ranking: 29

Byrd (4-8): The Yellow Jackets have a pair against Southwood (winless in the district) but also have three non-district games scheduled that could boost their playoff seeding in Division 1.

Current district standing: 6. Current power ranking: 5 (D1)

OTHER DISTRICTS

1-4A: Northwood, Minden, North DeSoto and Evangel all have one district loss. Northwood and Evangel meet Wednesday and Thursday. North DeSoto and Minden will also meet on those same days. The Griffins (3) and Falcons (6) are among the top teams for power rankings in 4A, while Minden (15) needs a strong finish. Evangel (6) is in a battle for a Division 2 home playoff game.

1-3A: Loyola has already won the district but has three games this week that could move it up in the Division II power rankings — Northwood (Tuesday), Captain Shreve (Friday), at Evangel (Saturday). The Flyers would love to move up at least one spot from No. 9 in the power rankings to get a home playoff game.

1-1A: Calvary’s 6-5 loss to Glenbrook will end up being the deciding game, but the Cavs still have three non-district games against Class 5A schools. Calvary is currently No. 5 in the power rankings.

Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL


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