Westlake hasn’t been to the LHSAA state softball tournament since 2010 but it has been business as usual as they prepare for their return to Sulphur.
“At times, they can be nervous and a little over whelmed but the main emotion is that they are excited,” Westlake head coach Lindsey Langner said. “For the most part we have been trying to go at it practice wise pretty normal.
“We have been trying to prepare them for the atmosphere mentally for crowds and things like that. I think they are really excited and ready to go.”
No. 8 Westlake (21-6) will face No. 1 Brusly (29-4) in the 3A quarterfinal at 5 p.m. on Friday.
“We know they are a very strong team,” Langner said. “We told them from the begging that you have to have play clean defense and minimize mistakes You have to be ready from the first pitch.”
With just three seniors in shortstop Morgan Harlow (.459, 7 doubles, 5 triples, 40 runs), a LSU Eunice signee, second baseman Baleigh Glover (.380, 14 doubles, 3 home runs, 21 RBIs), a Northwestern State University signee, and third baseman Reagan Richard (.352, 8 doubles, 35 RBIs), Westlake has had to rely on underclassmen this year.
“We lost a few good hitters from last year but we gained a few,” Langner said. “The key has been that they step up when they need to.
“Last year we didn’t capitalize when we had runners on base but this year we have.”
One of those is sophomore pitcher Myka Lester who has amassed a 19-5 record with 155 strikeouts while greatly improving her composure in the circle this year.
“She has definitely matured a lot,” Langner said. “She is learning more about hitters.
“We have talked to her about being smart as a pitcher and staying composed. That has been her focus this year; not let anything get to her.”
No. 2 North Vermilion (30-3) will put its 10-game win streak on the line Friday when it takes on No. 7 Lutcher (22-10) at 5 p.m.
At 12 p.m., No. 3 Caldwell Parish (25-7) will take on No. 6 Jena (19-10) and No. 4 Pine Prairie (28-8) will face No. 5 Winnfield (24-9).
In Division III, Calvary Baptist is making its fourth straight trip to Sulphur and third as the No. 1 seed. Calvary won the 2A title last year and was the runner up in 2015 as the top seed.
Calvary (21-3) will face No. 8 Opelousas Catholic (16-12) at 5 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game will face the winner out of No. 4 St. Charles Catholic (24-3) and No. 5 Archbishop Hannan (23-7) which will start at 12 p.m.
Hannan won consecutive 1A titles in 2011 and 2012, was the runner up in 2013 and lost in the semifinals last year to Holy Savior Menard.
No. 3 Holy Savior Menard (26-7), led by senior Louisiana Tech signee Jenson Howell, has reached the 2A finals three straight year with a championship in 2015. But they will have to get past No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas (22-11), led by junior pitcher Karlee Kraft (1.63 ERA, 179k, .463, 18 doubles, 57 RBIs, 15 home runs) in the quarterfinals first at 12 p.m.
At 5 p.m., No. 2 Notre Dame (20-2), who has won 15 straight games, will take on No. 7 Catholic-New Iberia (26-6).