ARNAUDVILLE – Bailey Hemphill has made many a pitcher, and coach for that matter, pay dearly for a miscue. That proved to be the case again Thursday evening.
The St. Thomas More senior slugger helped her team rally as she hit a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning in a 4-3 road victory over District 4-4A foe Beau Chene.
“I have seen a lot of great hitters come through here over the years,” STM coach Andria Waguespack said. “She is one of the best pure hitters I have ever coached or seen.”
For the first four innings, STM (10-6, 4-1 in District 4-4A) struggled to get the ball out of the infield as Beau Chene’s Bryley Rodriguez was controlling the plate. The Cougars managed only three hits (all singles) and struck out eight times.
Meanwhile, Beau Chene (13-4, 6-2) built up a three-run lead off of STM’s senior ace Whitney Romero.
In the bottom of the first, Adalyn Deville drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Payge Hebert. Deville later scored on a bloop single over second base by Victoria Burns.
Beau Chene added to its lead in the bottom of the third.
After a two-out single by Burns, Lauren Manuel hit a two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.
In the fifth inning, STM’s bats came alive when the Cougars got a pair of back-to-singles from Romero and freshman Paityn Desormeaux. Then Hemphill stepped in the batter’s box and tied the game with one powerful swing.
“It was pretty simple,” Beau Chene coach Thad Dickey said. “We missed a pitch. I called for a rise ball to be out of the zone. Bryley left the ball in the middle of the plate. I take the blame for the loss because I am the one that called for the pitch.”
“We finally got aggressive,” Waguespack said. “Bryley is one of the best pitchers in our district, if not all of Class 4A. When facing a pitcher like that, you have to get aggressive.”
Beau Chene had an opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth as STM intentionally walked two batters to load the bases with two outs. Why did the Cougars take the gamble?
In the teams’ first meeting March 8, a game won by STM 4-3, Beau Chene third baseman Lindsey Charles hit a home run. That’s why on Thursday, STM opted to put Charles on base in the fifth despite her striking out twice on the day.
“She hit a jack (home run) in the first game, and I think the ball still hasn’t come down,” Waguespack said. “But I don’t do anything with the pitchers. It was all my pitching coach Danielle (Price). I trust her completely.”
In the top of the seventh, Romero led off and was hit by a pitch. Moments later she was driven in by Desormeaux, which proved to be the deciding run.
Romero recorded the win after giving up three runs on five hits with four walks and 12 strikeouts. Rodriguez took the loss after surrendering four runs on six hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts.
“It is hard as heck to win here,” said Waguespack, whose team hosts Carencro on Tuesday. “To come out here against a great team like that and win is huge.”