Safe at first

Mandeville's Mason Hickman slides back to first as St. Paul's first baseman Cameron Caime tries to pick a low throw during a District 6-5A tournament game on April 11.

Four St. Tammany baseball teams drew the luxury of a first-round playoff bye last week.

Or a curse, depending on who you talk to.

“I’m not a huge fan of it,” said St. Paul’s coach Mick Nunez.

The Wolves (15-13) are the No. 8 seed in the Division I select bracket, meaning the Wolves got a week off to prepare for No. 9 Jesuit (20-11).

A year ago the Wolves also had a bye as the top 12 teams in the select brackets get a week of rest.

“Right or wrong, I’ve always believed that we should focus more on ourselves,” Nunez said. “I think it depends who is on the mound and if they’re on or off, and I mean that both offensively and defensively. We’re going to focus on what we need to do, and hopefully, it will pan out.”

St. Paul’s participated in an exhibition game against Hannan, who also had a bye.

“I’m glad the state allows it now,” Nunez said. “The exhibition against Hannan went well, and I think we both got some good things out of it. If you get with the right people, it works out well. We did it with Lakeshore last year.”

The Hawks (15-14) are No. 10 in the Division II select bracket and will travel to No. 7 Lafayette Christian (20-13) in the second round.

Hannan coach Chris Garrett said his team used the bye week to recharge.

“I feel like we started super hot this year, and then it became a grind, and we haven’t had any time off,” Garrett said. “We’re going to treat the second-round series as if we are going into opening day. That’s how we’re going to attack it. Hopefully, we’ll be rested and ready to go.”

Mandeville coach Brady Benoit said the No. 8 Skippers (25-7) used the bye week as a chance to heal.

“It will help us heal up a little bit,” Benoit said. “It helps us get our pitching in the exact order that we’d like to get it. At the same time, you go almost two weeks without playing. Especially when you’re playing well, you don’t know how the kids are going to respond to that, but we’re definitely happy to have it.”

The District 6-5A champion Skippers played an exhibition with Rummel. Mandeville will host No. 24 Neville in a Division I nonselect second-round series.

Pope John Paul II coach Brian Babin has been in this situation before. The Jaguars had a bye last season and chose to do an inter-squad scrimmage, but this year, they played exhibition games against Curtis.

“I think the exhibition will help a lot,” Babin said. “Now that it’s a different jersey on the other side, I think they’ll take it a little more seriously and play the game a little harder. It’s going to put us in the same caliber of games that everybody is playing right now, so hopefully, it’ll help us move on to the next level.”

The No. 8 seeded Jaguars (23-8) will host No. 9 Newman (17-10) in a Division III select second-round series this week.

SECOND-ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

All series are best-of-three. Schedule subject to change.

Division I nonselect

No. 24 Neville at No. 8 Mandeville, 6:30 p.m. Thursday; 6:30 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday (if necessary)

No. 12 Covington at No. 5 St. Amant, 6:30 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Saturday (If necessary)

Division II nonselect

No. 20 Lakeshore at No. 4 Erath, 6 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday; 4 p.m. Saturday (if necessary)

No. 10 Pearl River at No. 7 West Feliciana, 6 p.m. Thursday; 4 p.m. Friday; 6:30 p.m. Friday (if necessary)

Division I select

(9) Jesuit at (8) St. Paul’s, 4 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Saturday (if necessary)

Division II select

No. 10 Hannan at No. 7 Lafayette Christian, 6 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday (if necessary)

Division III select

No. 9 Newman at (8) Pope John Paul II, 7 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday; 4 p.m. Saturday (if necessary)

Contact Joseph Halm at jhalm@sttammanyfarmer.net.