SULPHUR — In high school softball, whether a team wins or loses often comes down to pitching. But when a pitcher delivers a game-altering hit you really have something.
Caley Pyles did all that while leading 12th-seeded Cedar Creek to a 6-0 victory over No. 3 Ascension Catholic in the Class 1A title game at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball Championships on Saturday night.
Pyles, the Cougars lone senior, scattered four hits, struck out four and knocked in three runs with a fourth-inning double in her final game.
“It took us a long time to do this,” Pyles said. “I knew that my team needed me, and I knew this was my time to step up and be a leader. I knew we needed a hit.”
Pyles was voted the title game’s Outstanding Player after leading Cedar Creek (21-12) to its first state title since 1994.
The title also comes a year after the Cougars were the top seed but lost in the regional round.
The game scenario was eerily familiar for Ascension Catholic. The Bulldogs (27-4) used practically the same script in their 5-0 win over Central Catholic in Saturday’s semifinal.
ACHS sophomore pitcher Julia Beck had a three-RBI double in the first inning of that game and went on to pitch a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts.
“You can’t put into words what this team means to me,” ACHS coach Brandi Hahn said. “They’ve grown into my family. This year is something I’ll treasure, and I know the girls will as well.
“We knew coming in that they were going to get some hits. But we actually expected to hit with them. She (Pyles) really did a good job keeping us off balance.”
Harlie Robinson was 2-for-3 with two runs scored to pace Cedar Creek, while Katelin Cooper was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Maggie Blanchard, Raeshaun Malanson, Kaitlyn Mistretta and Jeanne Zeringue each had one hit for Ascension Catholic
It started out promising for ACHS in the bottom of the first. Blanchard walked and Malanson singled with two outs. But Pyles lined out to end the threat. Amy Gregoire and Natalie Landry walked in the bottom of the fifth. Cedar Creek shortstop Halie Robinson knocked down a grounder by Jeanne Zeringue and got a force out at third. Pyles induced a pop up to end the inning.
“We knew they were good hitters, and we couldn’t give them anything,” Pyles said. “Mixing pitches was definitely the key. I threw five different pitches.
“The most effective was probably my change-up it really kept them off balance.”
By that time ACHS applied that fifth-inning pressure Cedar Creek already had a 6-0 lead. The Cougars scored four times in the fourth. Harlie Robinson and Cooper opened CCHS’ fourth with singles and both advance on a wild pitch. Nicole Brashear’s single scored scored Harlie Robinson.
Lauren Wade walked to load the bases for Pyles, who smashed a double to the base of the left field fence that was tough for ACHS’ Landry to field.
Cedar Creek added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning.
“We didn’t have those timely hits,” Hahn said. “We got to play in the last game on the very last day of the season. I’m so proud of these girls.
“They took us somewhere not a lot of people expected us to be.”
Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter @fambroughadv.