Over the last few years, Welsh and Kinder have become household names in the Class 2A prep football and baseball circles.
The Greyhounds won a state football title in 2017 and last school year they were runner up in football and baseball. Kinder won back-to-back state baseball titles in 2014 and 2015 and football titles in 2013 and 2015. The Yellow Jackets are in semifinals for the third consecutive year and fifth time in five years.
With nearly a dozen players that have played in a state football or baseball final, first-year Welsh head coach Mike Williams is not surprised the Greyhounds are in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. Williams was an assistant at Welsh two years ago when the current crop of seniors were sophomores.
“These guys were sophomores and we didn’t have any senior starters,” Williams said. “I knew going into last year how good they were going to be.
“I like the amount of toughness these guys have. The football experience will carry over to baseball. They have a lot of energy.”
Welsh’s success has centered around the mound this season and seniors Parker Primeaux, Alec Iguess and Dylan Degeyter, plus sophomore Landen Broussard. After losing the opener of its quarterfinal series to Many in extra innings, Primeaux pitched a complete game shutout in Game 2 with 10 strikeouts and Broussard helped close out the series, holding the Tigers to four runs over five innings.
“Our success starts on the mound,” Williams said. “When our pitching has been on and hitting their spots with good rhythm we have responded offensively.
“Our guys have to go out there and throw strikes and get the energy going. We have to have short innings on defense and long innings on offense.”
In the quarterfinals, Welsh senior Austyn Benoit went 6 for 11 with 8 RBIs, five runs and three home runs.
Welsh will face Doyle today in the Class 2A semifinals at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers will play in their first semifinal game since 2015. Williams said attacking any weaknesses will be key.
“They are going to be a tough team to beat,” Williams said. “They are going to give us everything we can dream of in a semifinal game.
“I feel like we match up very well. We are athletic and can put the bunt down and I think that we can have success in that. We are going to try to find their weaknesses and exploit them.”
The Yellow Jackets struggled with injuries and youth early in the season then a bout of flu that ran through the school. But the Yellow Jackets have come on strong lately, winning 10 of their last 11 games. Seniors Elijah Lavan (.451 avg., 6 HRs, 41 RBIs, 32 runs) and Collin Klein (.411 avg., 25 RBIs, 38 runs) and junior Michael Fontenot (.487 avg., 3 HRs, 40 RBIs, 50 runs) have been the leaders at the plate.
“We really finally got healthy,” first-year Kinder head coach Tyler Chachere said. “Being as young as we were and the injury bug, we took some lumps early but we have learned and grown from those mistakes. I am really proud of how they matured. We didn’t have a big senior class and lost a lot of arms on the mound.”
Kinder’s offense can light up the scoreboard in a hurry and is 19-2 in games where they score eight or more runs.
“I think we swing it pretty well,” Chachere said. “Our offense carries us. We can put some runs up. We can bunt if we have to and we can hit the gaps if we have too. We can score runs any way we need to.”
Kinder will get a rematch with defending 2A champ and No. 8 Loreauville today at 4:30 p.m. The Tigers won 12-9 last year and knocked off No. 1 Winnfield in the quarterfinals last week.
“We got behind a lot early last year,” Chachere said. “We ended up getting the tying run to the plate at the seventh, but we got too far behind to early. They are a pretty good offensive club. We are going to have to pitch well and play good defense.”