Airline, Benton set for second-round playoff series …. weather permitting

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The Airline Vikings and Benton Tigers are scheduled to begin their best-of-three second-round baseball playoffs series Friday night at home.

If weather permits, of course. And that’s a big if.

According to the National Weather Service office in Shreveport, there is a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms mainly after 1 p.m. Friday. The chance increases to 80 percent Friday night. Some of the storms could be severe.

There is also a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday during the day and night. Both Sunday and Monday look good with just slight chances of rain.

Airline (27-4), the No. 3 seed, hosts No. 19 Chalmette (22-9) in Class 5A. Benton (18-11), the No. 6 seed, hosts No. 11 Crowley (18-8) in Class 4A.

The opening games in both series are scheduled for 6 p.m. Game 2 in the Airline-Chalmette series is set for noon Saturday with a Game 3, if necessary, immediately following. Game 2 in the Benton-Crowley series is set for 11 a.m. Saturday with a Game 3, if necessary, immediately following.

Airline defeated No. 30 Central Lafourche 7-0 in its first-round game. Chalmette upset No. 14 John Curtis 8-4.

This won’t be the first meeting between the Vikings and the Owls this season.

Airline defeated Chalmette 4-1 in the Ouachita Christian tournament on March 4. Vikings left-hander Cameron Taylor allowed just two hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings. Airline got six hits in the game with Northwestern State signee Peyton Davis going 3-for-3.

That loss came during an tough stretch for Chalmette during the early part of the season. The Owls lost five of their first seven games. But since then they’ve gone 19-4.

Chalmette finished runner-up in District 8-5A. The Owls’ only two losses district losses were to champion John Ehret.

According to The New Orleans-Time Picayune/nola.com, Chalmette coach Lyall Barwick resigned for personal reasons about a month ago and was replaced by interim coach Kenny Bonura, one of his assistants.

Second baseman Alex Powell went 3-for-4 in against John Curtis, the District 9-5A champion.

Airline will take a 14-game winning streak into the series. The Vikings have won 18 of their last 19 and lost only twice since the end of February.

Airline is in the second round for the first time since 2011, when the Vikings were also the No. 3 seed. The Vikings haven’t made it past the second round since 2008 when they reached the semifinals.

Benton defeated No. 27 seed Franklin Parish 6-1 in the first round Tuesday. Crowley slipped past No. 22 Morgan City 8-7 in nine innings.

The Gents finished second in District 3-5A behind LaGrange. Their only two district losses were to the champion.

Like Airline’s opponent, Crowley got off to a slow start. The Gents lost four straight to open the season. They reeled off 10 straight wins after that before going on a three-game slide that included the losses to LaGrange.

Crowley has won eight of nine since then. Benton has won 10 in a row and 12 of its last 13 since a six-game losing streak in midseason.

Benton is looking for its fourth straight trip to the quarterfinals. The Tigers haven’t advanced past the quarterfinals since reaching the Class 3A state championship game in 2007.

— Russell Hedges, rhedge@bossierpress.com