By T. Scott Boatright
What happens on Saturday might be new for most of his players, but not so for Choudrant High School baseball coach Tony Antley.
Antley’s Aggies are aiming for their fifth state title after claiming championships in 1996, 2002, 2005 and 2017.
They also reached title games in 1990, 2006, 2010 and 2011.
This time top-seeded Choudrant (31-3) will be taking on third-seeded Elizabeth, which heads into the contest at 30-4. The Class B state championship game is set for a 10 a.m. start on Saturday on Field 40 at McMurray Park in Sulphur.
Antley said he knows his Aggies, who have now won 29 straight, will be challenged.
“I’ve watched several of (Elizabeth’s) games on the National Federation (of High School Baseball) site and had several scouting reports on them going into the state tournament already,” Antley said. “They’re a well-coached, quality baseball team. Rhon Morgan does an exceptional job with them.
“They hit through the lineup 1-9 and have 30 some odd home runs on the season already. They’re stingy with those bats. They’re going to battle until they find a pitch they can try to drive. They just do a really good job at the plate.”
Antley said the Bulldogs are stocked with some strong young guns, too.
“They have a couple of really good kids on the mound, actually, but I figure we’ll see (righthander Alex) Chamberlin, who threw in the semifinals. He does a really good job and is a 83-85 (mph) guy with a nice little breaking ball. But the main thing is that he just competes. He’s going to pound the strike zone and make you try to beat him and there’s where we’re going to have to try some bats to do it with.”
Elizabeth holds a 7-4 advantage in experienced seniors heading into the game.
“They have seven seniors on the team and I don’t think they want to play their last game, either,” Antley said. “They’ve competed all the way through here and beat some quality teams. We’re going to have to play really well to beat them.”
After defeating Holden 6-1 in the first playoff game and Fairview 3-1 in the second, Choudrant had to edge out a 10-0 victory over Monterey in a semifinals showdown. Antley knows the Aggies will need a stronger performance at the plate against Elizabeth.
“That’s what we’ve been working on,” Antley said about trying to heat up the Aggie bats. “We know that’s what has to happen. We can’t go in and try to win a 1-0 ballgame. We think it’s going to be a 4-3 ballgame or something like that where we’ve got to be able to score some runs — manufacture some runs somehow.
“We know we’ve hit some quality pitching throughout the year. That’s what’s brought us to this point. So hopefully we’ve saved up a few runs and will be able to push some across the plate on Saturday.”
Antley said he’ll likely stay with the pitching rotation that has brought the Aggies to the Class B championship game.
“All of my playoff games this season I started my lefty (Braden Jones) and then went back to my righty with Brandon Carter,” Antley said. “We’re probably going to try that again. How long I’ll go with Braden, I don’t know. It’ll just be based on how he looks and how he’s commanding the zone. We’ve thrown him through all these playoff games with no breaks. All year long I had been giving him about a week off so this is a little shorter break than we’re accustomed to, so we’ll just have to see how he goes. But he’s earned that starting position for the title game.”
“Elizabeth is preparing for both of them I’m sure, but that’s a hard thing to do,” Antley said. “Trying to prepare for both sides of the plate is tough. I’ve tried to do it before. If we go one way or the other earlier than they anticipate, that could cause them some problems, too. We’ll just have to see how they handle Braden. In games Elizabeth has played against lefthanders this year, they really haven’t gotten that many hits off of them. But that doesn’t mean they won’t Saturday.”
Follow the Lincoln Parish Journal on Facebook and Twitter for championship game updates. An audio broadcast of the game will also be available at godleyworks.com.