Berwick will host Port Barre Wed.
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
Berwick High head softball coach Lloyd Burchfield is still waiting for his squad to play its best game of the season.
There’s no better time for that to happen than Wednesday when No. 16 Berwick hosts No. 17 Port Barre in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs at 4 p.m. at Lady Panther Diamond.
“We haven’t done that yet,” Burchfield said of his squad putting its best performance together. “We played a pretty good game against Lutcher the other day. Maybe we got on the right track.”
On Wednesday in its season finale at home, a playoff tune-up against Class 4A Lutcher, the Lady Panthers fell, 4-3.
As for Wednesday’s matchup, Burchfield said he doesn’t know anything about Port Barre (13-8 overall), who finished tied for first place with Eunice in District 5-3A play with an 8-2 record.
“We’re expecting a real good Port Barre team to come down here,” he said. “We’re expecting to have to play our best to beat Port Barre. That’s for sure.”
Both squads have common opponents in Berwick’s District 9-3A counterpart, Erath, and Port Barre’s District 5-3A foe, Rayne, as well as Westminster, a non-district opponent for both teams. Both Berwick and Port Barre beat these three teams.
On paper at 14-14, Berwick doesn’t appear to be a serious contender for a state title, but their record is somewhat diluted because of their rigorous non-district schedule Burchfield put his team through to prepare for the postseason as well as its tough district schedule.
That they are battle tested, along with the experience Berwick returns from last year’s state semifinal squad (which also entered the playoffs with a losing mark), makes Burchfield confident his team can compete.
“If we play up to our potential, we’re capable of beating anybody we play in the playoffs,” he said.
He said the key to his team securing a victory Wednesday would be his squad’s defensive play, specifically, eliminating or reducing the number of unearned runs they surrender.
“That’s what beat us all year long,” he said. “We had pretty good pitching all year long. I think our offense is good enough to take care of itself. We just gave up a ton of unearned runs in the most inopportune times.”
First pitch for Wednesday’s game is set for 4 p.m.