Baseball postseason preview: Top-25 teams Douglass, LexCath far from safe in districts

Going into this week’s high school baseball district tournaments, just two Lexington teams rank among the coaches’ poll top-25 teams in the state — No. 10 Frederick Douglass and No. 16 Lexington Catholic.

But Douglass (24-9) isn’t the top seed in its 42nd District playoffs and Lexington Catholic (21-11) won’t have an easy time in the 43rd, despite losing only once to a district rival during the regular season.

That rival was a Lafayette team with a 15-15 overall record and a 5-3 mark in district play. The Generals and Knights exchanged a pair of 3-2 victories in a May 9 doubleheader.

“It was good for our guys to know that we can beat anybody when we come out and play,” Lafayette coach Chris Langston said of the win over LexCath. “We beat St. Xavier earlier in the season and we’ve had some other good ones, but we needed that one as a reminder that we can compete in this district.”

Lafayette clinched the district’s No. 2 seed with a 7-5 win at Tates Creek on Monday. But the Generals will have to go back through the Commodores in a win-or-go-home district semifinals game on Monday. Tates Creek (14-15) is the tournament host, and like Lafayette, has had an up-and-down season.

Lafayette pulled out the win over Tates Creek thanks in part to a two-run home run by junior Kentucky commit Rantz Payton in the top of the seventh inning. Payton, who is healthy now, suffered an injury early in the season that short-circuited plans for him to have a large role on the mound, Langston said. Lafayette stumbled trying to find itself early on.

“It took us a while. I thought our pitching would be ready to go, but then Rantz went down at the beginning of the season,” Langston said. “We just weren’t ready to compete in big games and we finally figured it out in the last three weeks.”

Paul Laurence Dunbar (13-16) and Lexington Christian (7-19) kick off the 43rd District Tournament on Sunday and will play for the right to face Lexington Catholic. The Bulldogs swept LCA in the regular season. But LCA pushed the top-seeded Knights to nine innings before falling 3-2 on April 10.

In the 42nd District, tournament host Henry Clay (22-13) started off 2-6 but has risen to the form that had the Blue Devils ranked in the preseason top 25. They will play in the first semifinal on Monday and await the winner of Sunday’s game between Sayre (16-15) and Bryan Station (9-16).

In the other semifinal, Frederick Douglass will face a Scott County (19-15) team that cost it a shot at the No. 1 seed by scorching the Broncos with 10 runs in one extra-inning frame in an 11-1 win on April 24. Scott County got the third seed over Sayre by virtue of a tiebreaker coin flip.

Here’s a look at the 42nd and 43rd district’s top teams and players (with college commitment if known) heading into the postseason. Records are through Friday’s games. Rankings are according to the KHSAA’s 11th Region RPI Standings. The playoffs begin Sunday.

1) Frederick Douglass (24-9) — Leighton Harris, Sr. P/1B (Kentucky), 7-2, 0.86 ERA, .286 AVG, 2 HR, 20 R, 21 RBI; Jeremiah Lowe, Sr. LF (Michigan football), .419, 1 HR, 25 R, 24 RBI; Reece Harbison, Jr. SS (Western Kentucky), .414, 2 HR, 19 R, 25 RBI.

4) Lexington Catholic (21-11) — Owen Jenkins, Jr. 3B/C (Louisville), .487, 4 HR, 26 R, 23 RBI; Zach Grigalis, Sr. 1B (Colorado Mesa), .263, 4 HR, 19 R, 30 RBI; Brody Rogers, Sr. LHP (Transylvania), 7-0, 1.31 ERA.

5) Henry Clay (22-13) — Isaac Rone, Sr. CF (Centre), .330, 3 HR, 27 R, 23 RBI, 3-1, 2.38 ERA; Nore Day, Sr. SS, (Rio Grande) .304, 18 R, 243 RBI; Chardy Tierney, Sr. RHP (Eastern Kentucky), 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 59 Ks.

7) Tates Creek (14-15) — Chase Moore, Sr. 3B/RHP (Prairie View A&M), .350, 12 R, 12 RBI; Jamison Craig, Sr. CF (Centre) .314, 2 HR, 21 R, 13 RBI; Carson Van Haaren, Sr. RHP (Eastern Kentucky), 4-3, 1.54 ERA, 66 Ks.

8) Lafayette (15-15) — Brady Binder, Sr. OF/RHP, .429, 2 HR, 18 R, 27 RBI, 3-2, 2.62 ERA; Cam Napier, Sr. INF/RHP, .330, 2 HR, 27 R, 22 RBI; Eli Steele, Jr. INF/RHP, .329, 1 HR, 22 R, 12 RBI.

9) Sayre (16-15) — Charlie Slabaugh, Jr. OF/LHP (Columbia), .376, 3 HR, 36 R, 18 RBI; Charlie Scoggin, Sr. INF (Wooster football), .294, 24 R, 21 RBI; Gary Gibson, So. OF/RHP (Kentucky) .253, 3 HR, 26 R, 22 RBI, 1-3, 2.37 ERA, 65 Ks.

10) Paul Laurence Dunbar (13-16) — Nick Griffin, Jr. SS (Kansas State), .402, 1 HR, 19 R, 20 RBI; Max Elias, Jr. 1B/RHP, .299, 5 R, 23 RBI; Carson Quenon, So. OF/RHP, .298, 1 HR, 11 R, 22 RBI, 3-5, 4.26 ERA.

15) Bryan Station (9-16) — Trenton Cutwright, Sr. OF/RHP (Campbellsville football), .320, 1 HR, 23 R, 10 RBI; Jordan Carter, Jr. SS/RHP, .367, 15 R, 17 RBI, 2-3, 1.85 ERA; Braxton Hensley, So. INF/RHP, 3-4, 2.03 ERA.

16) Lexington Christian (7-19) — Andrew Dixon, Jr. LHP/1B/OF, .280, 11 R, 12 RBI, 1-5, 3.16 ERA; Sam Pearson, Fr. OF, .270, 1 HR, 15 R, 11 RBI; Jaxon Herrera, Jr. SS, .232, 11 R, 5 RBI.

42nd District Baseball Tournament

At Henry Clay

Sunday’s game

3 p.m.: Bryan Station vs. Sayre

Monday’s games

5:30 p.m.: Bryan Station-Sayre winner vs. Henry Clay

8 p.m.: Frederick Douglass vs. Scott County

Tuesday’s game

7 p.m.: Championship

43rd District Baseball Tournament

At Tates Creek

Sunday’s game

6 p.m.: Lexington Christian vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar

Monday’s games

5:30 p.m.: Tates Creek vs. Lafayette

8 p.m.: Lexington Christian-Paul Laurence Dunbar winner vs. Lexington Catholic

Tuesday’s game

6:30 p.m.: Championship

Frederick Douglass’ Jeremiah Lowe (3) slides into home ahead of the tag of Henry Clay catcher Mason Draper in the Broncos’ 5-0 win at Henry Clay on May 1. The Devils and Broncos are the top two seeds in the 42nd District Tournament.
Frederick Douglass’ Jeremiah Lowe (3) slides into home ahead of the tag of Henry Clay catcher Mason Draper in the Broncos’ 5-0 win at Henry Clay on May 1. The Devils and Broncos are the top two seeds in the 42nd District Tournament.

Softball postseason preview: Bryan Station, Douglass look to end Scott County’s streak