North Vermilion’s softball team was locked in a fierce battle for the District 6-3A championship that went down to the final week of play.
The Lady Patriots avenged an earlier loss to archrival Kaplan and forged a tie for the league’s lead only to suffer a 7-5 defeat to Notre Dame, winding up as the district’s runners-up.
While it wasn’t able to collect the first of its season-long goals, North Vermilion turns its attention to the team’s next objective: to win the Class 3A state championship.
No. 5 North Vermilion (22-5) begins that pursuit with a first-round home game at 4 p.m. Monday against No. 28 Church Point (10-13) — weather-permitting.
“We’re very excited about our seed,” first-year North Vermilion coach Joy LeBlanc said. “We had a good season, but there’s still room to get better at things we have to work on. The ultimate goal is to get back to Sulphur and make a run for a state championship.”
Another team wiping away late-season disappointment is Delcambre, which was on the brink of a District 5-2A championship until it suffered a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Opelousas Catholic on the final day of the regular season.
The No. 12 Lady Panthers (14-7) also get to host an opening-round game: No. 21 French Settlement (12-13) visits at 5 p.m. Monday at Remy Landry Park
“We were expected to be in the top two in district,” first-year Delcambre coach Keith Morgan said. “(The doubleheader loss) was hard for our girls, but I believe they’ll bounce back pretty well. I’ve reminded them, from here on out, it’s one game at a time, and play the next game like it’s the most important of your life.”
Injuries and inexperience have contributed to an up-and-down season for Church Point, which as a No. 19 seed upset No. 14 Albany 14-2 a year ago in the opening round.
The Lady Bears were 3-8 through 11 games before tearing off seven wins in a nine-game stretch. They dropped their last four games of the regular season and wound up finishing third in District 5-3A.
“They do have the ability to compete,” coach Mike Hardy said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we went over there and won or got beat by 15. It depends on what they do that day.”
Hardy said senior Olivia Daigle, who defeated North Vermilion as a sophomore, will make one of her few starts this season following an illness.
Senior Hannah Vidalier is a dual threat for North Vermilion with a 15-5 record, 59 strikeouts and a 2.07 ERA to go with a .482 batting average.
Shortstop Adele Vincent leads the team with a .531 average, followed by catcher Demi Boudreaux (.446) and centerfielder Elise Vincent (.440).
The Lady Patriots are in search of their fourth straight trip to the LHSAA state tournament in Sulphur, where they were a semifinalist last year.
“We’re not taking any game lightly,” said LeBlanc, who played catcher at Louisiana-Lafayette while Hardy was an assistant in 2002 and ’04. “Church Point’s a very good opponent, and we’re going to have to play our best game to continue on.”
With eight starters back from a state quarterfinalist team, Delcambre appears to have all the pieces in place for another subsequent run.
Taylor Trahan has a 14-7 record, a 1.04 ERA and 85 strikeouts to go with a .528 batting average. Right fielder Haley LeBlanc (.480), shortstop Tori Verret (.436) and Taylor Broussard (.400) are the Lady Panthers’ offensive leaders.
“The biggest thing I tell them is it doesn’t matter who you play,” Morgan said. “Every time you step on the field, you’re basically playing against yourself. You have to win every game, whether they’re a No. 21 seed or 1 seed.”