The Benton Tigers will be seeking a spot in the Class 4A state championship game Friday in Sulphur.
The No. 9 seed Tigers (27-13) face the No. 5 West Ouachita Chiefs (29-11) in a semifinal game at 10:30 a.m. at McMurry Park.
The winner plays the winner of a 1:30 p.m. semifinal between No. 3 DeRidder (34-7) and No. 31 Westgate (16-22) for the state championship at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Benton is making its first appearance in the semifinals since 2007 when it was in Class 3A. The Tigers reached the title game that year, falling to Iowa 6-0.
West Ouachita is no stranger to the state tournament. The Chiefs were state runners-up in 2016, losing to Teurlings Catholic 3-2 in the title game. West Ouachita knocked Benton out of the playoffs in the best-of-three quarterfinals two games to none.
The Chiefs also reached the semifinals in 2014.
District 1-4A co-champion Benton has had a wild ride through the playoffs. The Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the seventh in a 3-2 first-round victory over No. 24 Pearl River. They hit the road for their next two series, beating No. 8 Belle Chasse two games to none in the second round and No. 1 Breaux Bridge two games to one in the quarterfinals.
Benton won the second game against Belle Chasse 9-8 in 15 innings. After defeating Breaux Bridge 7-3 in game one, the Tigers played two extra-inning games on Saturday, losing game two 5-3 in 11 innings and winning the decisive game three 5-3 in nine.
West Ouachita defeated No. 28 Carencro 4-0 in the first round. The Chiefs defeated No. 21 South Terrebonne two games to none (6-5, 8-2) in the second round and No. 4 South Lafourche two games to one (1-3, 6-0, 11-1) in the quarterfinals.
West Ouachita, the District 2-4A champion, won 14 of its last 15 regular-season games.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org