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High school baseball: Season gets underway Monday

The high school baseball season gets underway Monday with three games.

Airline hosts North DeSoto, Parkway visits Lakeside and Haughton faces St. Mary’s at Northwestern State’s Brown-Stroud Field.

Bossier and Benton face off Tuesday at Benton in another season opener.

Airline is the three-time defending District 1-5A champion. The Vikings went 30-6 last year, falling to district rival Byrd in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Airline graduated six All-Parish players last spring, including pitchers Kyle Backofen (ULM) and Cameron Taylor (Northwestern State).

But coach Toby Todd has a solid core group back and Airline has the potential to have another outstanding season.

Senior pitcher/shortstop Cameron Parikh, the MVP on the 2016 All-Parish team, leads the returnees. Parikh, a Louisiana Tech signee, was 7-2 last season with a 1.94 ERA. He batted .388 with 11 doubles and 18 RBI. He also had 13 steals.

Two more senior All-Parish players return — catcher Josh James and infielder Jonathan Brandon.

James batted .256 with 13 RBI. He was also very effective at moving runners with the sacrifice bunt.

Brandon, son of former Airline star Dustin Brandon, batted .381 with 15 RBI and six doubles.

Senior infielder/pitcher Chase Hodges, an honorable mention All-Parish selection, is also back.

Benton is the four-time defending District 1-4A champion. The Tigers were 20-13 last season and advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals for the fourth straight year.

Coach J.D. Stephens lost three All-Parish players to graduation, including pitchers Jackson Rutledge (Arkansas) and Tanner Craft, the co-MVPs on the All-District team.

The Tigers return four All-Parish players — infielder Cody Norris, outfielder Sam Simmons, utility Connor Jack Smith and outfielder Coleman Nerren.

Norris batted .370 with 21 RBI last season. Simmons hit .396 with 25 RBI, 12 doubles and two triples.

Smith batted .389 with 26 RBI and two home runs. Nerren batted .421 with 16 RBI.

Infielder Garrett Hable, a first-team All-District selection, and pitcher Will Hine, a second-team selection, also return.

Haughton coach Glenn Maynor lost four All-Parish players to graduation, including ace pitcher Triston Carmack (BPCC).

Pitchers Austin Clemmens and Cameron Townsend are among the returnees along with Jonathan Plant, Mason Simmons and Sam Herren.

The Bucs finished 17-13 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Parkway has a new head coach in David George, who replaces Rick Bryant.

The Panthers are coming off a 9-17 season with a young lineup.

Among the returnees are pitchers Eric Brown, a second-team All-District selection, and Matthew McKee, an honorable mention All-Parish selection.

Other key contributors from last season returning include Derious Bradford, Landon Kirkland, Caleb Reese, Eric Williams and Amani Larry.

Bossier is coming off an 12-13 season. Pitcher/outfielder Kevin McCuthen, who batted .362 last season, leads the returnees for coach Bryan Harvey.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com

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