A year ago, the Benton Tigers’ season ended with a loss to Teurlings Catholic in the Class 4A baseball quarterfinals.
The Tigers have reached that point again. Benton (28-8), the No. 4 seed, hosts No. 5 St. Michael the Archangel (23-9) of Baton Rouge at 4 p.m. today with a spot in the semifinals in Sulphur on the line.
Benton, the District 1-4A champ, has rolled past South Terrebonne, 11-1, and Northwood, 12-0, in the playoffs. St. Michael, the District 6-4A champ, has defeated Beau Chene, 15-5, and Eunice 8-6.
Benton coach J.D. Stephens said he plans to start Aaron Henigan on the mound today.
Henigan pitched a five-inning four-hitter against South Terrebonne in his last outing.
“Each round is going to be what it is,” Stephens said. “Eight teams are left in 4A and St. Michael is one of the best hands down. Everybody we’ve talked to says they can swing it with anybody. And they got a guy that can get out there and compete and throw strikes.
“We’d like to stay prepared with St. Michael but at the same time we’re going to make sure we stay within ourselves, keep our approach at the plate. You get so caught up playing your opponent, you lose sight of what you’ve done to get there … Henigan is going to go out there and throw his game and offensively we’re going to have the same approach.”
Benton has won 13 straight games since losing to Class 3A power Evangel 6-1 on April 4.
The Tigers are a veteran club with all but one starter back from last year’s team that lost to Teurlings Catholic.
Northwestern State signee Jordan Shaffer and Cameron Horton have been the most consistent hitters, but the Tigers have gotten production up and down the line.
Wade Grubbs, Taylor Ward, Jaret Gill, Josh Scherer, Branson Woodward, Peyton Leflett, Tyler Stephens and Henigan have all made major contributions at the plate and in the field.
Aaron Sheppard has done his part on the mound. Aaron Baker and TJ Anderson have bothplayed roles in the team’s success.