Comets prepare for tough district

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013



LAPLACE – For St. Charles Catholic, it’s been an up and down baseball campaign so far. The Comets will attempt to find stability quickly as, now, the most critical stretch of their regular season is upon them.

With two games against District 7-3A foe Brusly this week and two more upcoming against E.D. White, another district rival, the Comets face perhaps the most daunting challenge in district play in quite some time.

All three teams are ranked in the top 15 in Class 3A power points, with E.D. White ranked second, Brusly ranked fourth and the Comets ranked 15th. All three teams are ranked in the top 10 of the Class 3A poll, with E.D. White ranked first.

SCC (11-10) was scheduled to face Brusly in the first matchup between the teams yesterday (after press time) and will rematch the Panthers Thursday at St. Charles. The games against E.D. White will take place April 16 and 18.

“This is the toughest district in 3A. That’s how I feel about it,” said St. Charles coach Paul Waguespack. “We could conceivably finish third in it, and it’s been a bunch of years since that’s happened here.

“E.D. White and Brusly are two of the top five teams in our classification. We’ve got a tough task. These games against Brusly are going to be the first truly meaningful games we’ve had in awhile.”

St. Charles split the district championship with E.D. White last season. The Cardinals, however, won the rubber match in the state quarterfinals.

Brusly entered the week with a record of 16-4. The Panthers have won 11 out of their last 13 – the two losses came, indeed, to E.D. White last week by scores of 3-2 and 8-4.

The Panthers are led, in part, by senior brothers Taylor and Cullen Prejean, Blake Manola and Kwanston Adkins.  Taylor Prejean anchors the pitching rotation.

“Brusly does the little things right,” said Waguespack. “They get runners on and bunt them over. They’re gonna rely on their pitching … they love that 12-6 curve. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice. Hitting curveball, curveball, curveball.

“The big thing with them, they make you come out and beat them. They won’t make mistakes and beat themselves.”

E.D. White (17-2), meanwhile, boasts a rotation topped by Scott Szuch and Payton Coddou. Catcher Logan Barbera is among the team’s most dangerous hitters. He and Szuch are returning first team All-State players.

“E.D. White’s got a couple guys in their rotation who will blow you away if you let them,” said Waguespack. “Just two outstanding pitchers. They’re going to make you go and try to string together hits to beat them. They’re not gonna walk a lot of people.”

The Comets entered the week one game over .500. As always, SCC has navigated through a very difficult non-district schedule.

But the Comets haven’t had the best of luck in close games; SCC is 3-5 in one-run games and are 5-7 in games decided by two runs or less.

“Now’s the time where we’ve got to make our push,” said Waguespack. “Yes, we’ve played a tough schedule, but we haven’t gotten the big hit when we’ve needed it. It’s been frustrating.”

One component SCC can certainly rely on has been its starting pitching. Right-hander and returning All-Stater Chad McNeil has been stellar in his senior season – he’s allowed no earned runs and just four unearned runs in 28 innings, his ERA still standing at 0.00 for the year.

He’s 5-2 on the season with 36 strikeouts. Lefthander Connor Smith has also been very strong, sporting a 2.96 ERA in 28 innings. Austin Weber has complimented the Comets’ one-two punch, posting a 1.29 ERA in 16 innings.

“Our pitching has been good enough to win a lot of games,” said Waguespack. “We can’t complain about that at all.”

Offensively, Kameron Keller has turned in a strong season atop the Comets lineup, hitting .400 with 21 runs scored. He’s posted an on-base percentage of .532. Mason Bordelon is hitting .350. McNeil checks in with an average of .340, including seven doubles. Dylan Gillies has collected 15 RBIs.

“This week will tell us where we are … if we’re true contenders or pretenders,” said Waguespack. “By Thursday night, I’ll know a lot about our team.”