SULPHUR — The No. 7 Kaplan softball team finished its season a win short of its first Class 3A state title since 2006, as top-seeded John Curtis defeated the Pirates 4-3 for their fifth state championship in as many years Saturday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 tournament at Frasch Park.
The Pirates (24-5) squandered a late three-run lead and never recovered, leading to a heart-breaking end to the season.
“It’s very difficult for our kids right now,” Kaplan coach Shay Herpin said. “When you’re up by three runs, we just have to learn simple things . … It’s tough when you shut them down all game, then all of a sudden you make a couple errors here and there and it comes back to bite you.”
Kaplan took the lead when junior pitcher Abby Trahan hit a two-run home run over the center field wall in the fourth inning, and extended its lead when third baseman Lexi Breaux hit an RBI double to made it 3-0 Kaplan.
But the Pirates fell apart in the bottom of the fourth with three infield errors that allowed the Patriots (27-3) to score four unearned runs. They were unable to respond with any runs of their in the seventh inning, and just like that, their bid for an upset ended.
“I’ve been on both sides of games like this, but it’s like I told my girls, I never prepare a losing speech,” John Curtis coach Jerry Godfrey said. “It doesn’t exist for me as a coach. We’re going to talk about fighting and winning until the game is over.”
The breakdown came after Trahan had thrown five scoreless innings with five strikeouts and just two hits allowed.
“I thought (Trahan) had a great game,” Herpin said. “We just didn’t make plays behind her. Our pitching coach did a hell of a job this year working with her and doing the things we need to do and making her a team player. She’s come a long way, and I’d put her up against anybody.
Despite giving up three runs John Curtis pitcher Peyton Pigniolo dominated most of the contest, allowing just two hits and striking out 14 in her most outstanding player award-winning performance.
Herpin said he hopes his team can take this experience and use it as a learning experience.
“The games going to teach them that life doesn’t always give you roses and everything,” Herpin said. “Sometimes you have to go through the (...) to get to the good stuff. If this is the worst thing that happens in their life, then they’re going to be very successful.”