By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
Fire up the maroon bus. Set the GPS to a point 215 miles due west of 5300 St. Charles Ave.
De La Salle is headed for Sulphur and Frasch Park to compete in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Softball Tournament, its first after 13 years of trying, but failing, to make the tournament field.
The Lady Cavs are finally going to cross bats with the best Division II teams in the semifinals of the Select schools tournament.
As the No. 4 seed in the playoff field, they earned their spot by defeating E.D. White, 5-0, and Thomas Jefferson, 7-2, in the first two rounds.
The victories mean the Cavs will play No. 1 Parkview Baptist, the reigning champion since 2017. This semifinal match will take place April 26 at 11 a.m.
De La Salle is one of four local Catholic school teams to enter the semifinal round.
While the Lady Cavs are playing that morning, No. 2 seed Archbishop Hannan will face No. 6 St. Thomas More on an adjacent field.
Later in the day, the Division I semifinal round will bring together No. 1 seed Dominican against No. 4 Evangel, and No. 3 Mount Carmel against No. 2 John Curtis. Those games are scheduled for 4 p.m.
Since the LHSAA began seeding playoff teams in 2008, De La Salle had not survived the first round. It wasn’t until 2018 that the Lady Cavaliers advanced to the regional round in which they were eliminated by Hannan, 5-1.
Prior to that year, they had been outscored by nine teams by the combined total of 111 runs to 8.
This season has been their best in history. They enter the semifinal round with a 15-4 record and on a nine-game victory streak since losing to Haynes Academy on March 25.
Their opponent, Parkview, has been impressive. The Lady Eagles carry a 29-3-1 record with playoff wins over Cabrini, 15-0, and Academy of Our Lady, 7-1.
Evangel will be the first playoff opponent Dominican (18-3) faces after having drawn byes through the first two rounds.
Mount Carmel (9-10) has split with Curtis, winning the first game, 11-0, then losing the rematch, 12-10.