For Doyle's baseball team, the goal at this point in the season isn’t complicated, but if anyone is questioning what the Tigers are playing for now, outfielder Cade Watts has a little reminder.
“The ring,” he said earlier this week of the team’s objective.
The No. 2-seeded Tigers (28-11) are making their first trip to the state tournament since 2015, facing No. 3 Welsh (23-8) in a Class 2A semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The winner of the game advances to the Class 2A championship game at 5:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between No. 5 Kinder and No. 8 Loreauville.
Heading into the game, the main goal for coach Tim Beatty is for the Tigers to get back on track offensively. After putting up six hits in a 13-1 win over Amite to open the playoffs and 22 in a three-game series win over Rosepine, Doyle combined for 10 hits in a two-game sweep of Avoyelles Public Charter by scores of 2-0 and 3-2.
‘We’re just trying to get our guys locked back in,” Beatty said. “We did things that we didn’t do all year. We didn’t swing at the high and tight fastball. We took a lot of 2-0 fastballs also for strikes, and that’s something that we didn’t do all year. We’re just going to try to preach to them, ‘hey, it doesn’t have to be that perfect pitch to drive the baseball.’ Just get something close and trust yourself. Swing hard and hope that you get a base hit.”
They’ll face a Welsh team that defeated No. 6 Many in the quarterfinals, dropping the first game of the series 5-4 in nine innings before bouncing back for wins of 4-0 and 21-4.
Beatty said he’s relied on assistant coach Darrell Frasier to put together scouting reports on the opposition during the Tigers’ playoff run, something that won’t change.
“I think Welsh, from what I’m gathering, is a team a lot like us,” Beatty said. “They put it in play. They’ve got some good arms, but our preparation is trying to make sure our guys know what to expect. We’re just making sure that we’re prepared not just physically to go do it, but mentally,” Beatty said.
Part of that preparation included Doyle practicing at the Traction baseball facility in Baton Rouge earlier this week, working at a facility with a turf infield and a grass outfield.
“That’s what we’re going to see when we get to Sulphur, because the ball is going to skip a little different on the throws from the outfield," Beatty said. "The ball is going to skip a little different into second from the catcher, things of that nature. I don’t know if we’re overpreparing, but we are making sure we are ready and we’re prepared.”
Beatty said Doyle departed a day early on its last trip to the state tournament but won’t be doing so this time, in part because of the game’s later start time. The team will leave around 10 a.m. Wednesday and stop to eat lunch before making its way to Sulphur.
“We’re trying to stay as routine as like if it’s any day,” Beatty said. “Normally, we start around six o’clock, 6:15. I know it’s a little later start, so we’re trying to factor that in a little bit, but we’re just trying to keep them in routine. We’re creatures of habit, so we’re just trying to stay that way.”
Doyle got solid outings from Andrew Yuratich and Brock Adams in its quarterfinal wins, with both turning in complete-game efforts. Beatty said both are available to pitch Wednesday but didn’t commit to a starter.
“We’re going to have a short leash if things go south,” Beatty said. “We’ve got two good relievers in Kolt Mitchell and Hunter Mizell. They’ve been kind of getting it done for us out of the pen. We’ve got Logan Turner that can throw – eat up innings. We’ve got everybody ready to go.”
Beatty is hoping that the Tigers’ offensive production picks up to help the team keep its postseason drive going.
“I just hope that it’s past us, and I think we’re due for a breakout game – try to get back into the swing of things,” he said. “It doesn’t overly concern me because our pitching and defense has done a great job of carrying us this far, and I don’t expect anything different. I think we’re going to go out there and throw strikes. We’re going to make the routine plays, and hopefully when it’s all said and done, we’ve got one more run than the other team.”
The News is interested in your feedback! Please tap here to leave some thoughts on our feedback form or follow this link: