The Brusly Lady Panthers returned to familiar territory this week.
The defending Class 3A state champs headed into playoff action after press time Tuesday against district rival West Feliciana.
The 2014 playoff run continues a post-season tradition that dates back to 1984.
No player on the team was born and most of their parents were in high school.
Coach Beau Bouvier was a high school student and predecessor Julie Mayeux was still in college.Years beyond the Ronald Regan presidency, "The Cosby Show", breakdancing and Madonna's rise to superstardom, the Lady Panthers still approach the post-season fray with a sense of tunnel vision.
Brusly enters the playoffs as defending Class 3A state champs, the third state title the Lady Panthers claimed since 1991.
The reputation makes BHS an instant target.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” Bouvier said.
Powerhouses such as Kaplan and John Curtis add intrigue for the Lady Panthers, according to Bouvier.
“People are talking about those teams, and that’s fine; hopefully we’ll meet up with them later on,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have time to worry about brackets because it’s all one game at a time - that’s the approach we’ve always taken.”
Depth will play a significant role in Brusly’s success, particularly after the loss of 2013 Class 3A MVP Carli Jo Leblanc, who underwent arm/shoulder surgery two weeks ago. The Lady Panthers - who are successfully defending their district title this season - will also work without the services of standout Shelby Fleming, who tore ligaments in her shoulder.
On a brighter note, senior Lanisha Taylor returns to action this week after a wrist injury. Pitcher Camryn Comeaux, meanwhile, has held her own against the challenges of powerhouses including Dutchtown and St. John.
"We have a chance to write our final chapter and it could be a good one," Bouvier said. "It could be a magical ending - we’ve got the talent to do it."
A sixth consecutive trip to Frasch Park in Sulphur for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Fast Pitch 56 Tournament May 2 and 3 could also bring an aura of mystique to the five seniors - Carlie Comeaux, Taylor Hazelet, Carli Jo LeBlanc, Lanisha Taylor and Shelby Willis.
It would mark the first time a group of players reached the state tournament all four years of high school. Even though the tournament begins in just over a week, the Lady Panthers must contend with other matters first, Bouvier said.
“Our main concern is the next game,” he said. “We have to worry about that before we worry about going to state."
The Lady Panthers headed into the playoffs after wins against two playoff mainstays - St. John and Dutchtown.
Against St. John, a Kaitlyn David sacrifice fly drove home Carlie Comeaux for the winning run in a 6-5 nailbiter.
Comeaux finished 4-4 with a double in the fourth and singles in the first, second and sixth innings.
Brusly tallied five runs in the second inning to dig its way out of a 4-0 deficit.
St. John powered back with a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game.
Against Dutchtown, the Lady Panthers built a 9-1 lead by the end of the sixth, but fought to stave off the Lady Griffins on a six-run rally in the top of the seventh.Carlie Comeaux once more powered the Lady Panthers. She chalked three RBI on three hits, including a double in the third, and singles in the fourth and sixth.
Brusly took the lead in the fourth and maintained it the rest of the game after a Carlie Comeaux two-run double and a David RBI single. Claire Daigle drove home Shelby Willis in the fourth on a sacrifice fly, while Maddie LaPrarie scored on an RBI single in the fifth.