Berwick looks to make late-season run

Longtime Berwick High School softball coach Lloyd Burchfield likes a challenge, and this year, he’s had his share — not only from his non-district schedule but also in the newly formed District 9-3A.

Not only did Berwick receive a challenge from its predistrict schedule, which featured 2011 Class 4A finalist Teurlings Catholic, defending Class 4A semifinalist Vandebilt Catholic, 2011 Class 3A champion Catholic High-New Iberia and defending Class 3A runner-up Brusly, when the squad reached District 9-3A play, they faced even more challenges. Kaplan and North Vermilion swept the Lady Panthers, and Berwick also split a two-game series with Patterson High School.

“I welcome a challenging district schedule because our districts in the past haven’t been so challenging, and so that’s why we had to play such a challenging non-district schedule to get ready for the playoffs,” Burchfield said. “We did it this year, but I’m glad our district’s better this year. You want a challenging district.”

While they currently sit with a 13-12 overall record and a 6-5 district mark, Burchfield’s squad faced a similar overall mark last year and were successful in the postseason.

Entering the playoffs as the No. 19 seed, the Lady Panthers took down No. 3 Parkview Baptist at home in the second round and No. 11 Notre Dame in the quarterfinals at the state tournament before falling in the state semifinals to No. 2 Brusly, 7-4.

“We weren’t supposed to beat either of those teams, but we started playing well at the right time,” Burchfield said.

This year, the Lady Panthers return nearly all of their starters from last season. However, one key position they have had to fill was pitcher as Berwick lost Elizabeth Manfre, who had pitched every game in her sophomore through senior seasons.

In her place, Burchfield has put in Megan Fegenbush, who he said has performed well.

“She’s pitching well enough for us to win most of the games,” Burchfield said. “Usually our problem is we have breakdowns defensively. It seems like all our errors, they’re costly errors. They end up costing us runs, and we (are) giving up a lot of unearned runs right now.”

The Lady Panthers also are not getting the timely hits they need at the plate, Burchfield said.

Still, with one of their goals — the district championship — out of their reach, the Lady Panthers are looking to improve and make another run in the playoffs.

“What I always tell my girls in January, we don’t want to be real good in January and February and March,” Burchfield said. “We want to be at the top of our game in April.”

Now is the time for that to happen, and Burchfield knows he has the squad to do it.

“They’ve been playing for years, and they have a lot of seasoning,” he said of his squad, who also plays on his summer team. “They can play the game. It’s just got to start falling our way and we have to start doing the little things to win.”

After today’s District 9-3A finale against Abbeville at 4 p.m. in Berwick, the Lady Panthers will close the regular season with playoff tune-up games at home, on Monday against defending Class 5A state champion Hahnville and on Wednesday against Class 4A Lutcher.

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