SULPHUR — It may have gotten a little tighter than the Cabrini fans wanted in the final inning, but the Crescents still got the job done.
Fighting off a seventh-inning rally that saw Assumption bring the tying run to the plate, No. 20 seed Cabrini defeated No. 5 Assumption 3-2 in the Class 4A state softball tournament Friday afternoon at Frasch Park.
With the win, the Crescents (16-10) advance to take No. 1 North Desoto in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Assumption (18-10) pushed two runs in the seventh inning on an RBI single by Jasmine Cox and a Cabrini throwing error, but the team from Napoleonville came up just short.
“Things got a little nervous in that last half inning,” Cabrini coach Shannon Austin said. “I think our nerves got to us a little bit at the end.”
As was the case in their first two playoff games, the story for Cabrini was pitcher Karli Perque. The junior right-hander allowed her first earned run of the postseason while allowing four hits. But she struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“Karli Perque continued to throw the ball well for us, but Assumption came out and hit the ball well that last inning,” Austin said.
Breaking out to a 2-0 after its first at-bat on a two-run double by Hailey Sulthorp, Cabrini scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the fifth inning.
With two outs, Alexis Groce reached on an error. One batter later, Groce scored on an RBI triple by Christie Runnels.
Runnels, a sophomore third baseman, was the leading hitter on the night for the Crescents, going 3-for-3 with a triple and RBI.
“We got hits in clutch situations,” Austin said. “The credit goes to our team. Early in the season I felt like we left a small village on the bases some games. Now finally when we are getting runners in scoring position, our hitters are coming up and getting the job done. It is helping us out a whole lot.”
Also helping out big time is the precision pitching of Perque.
“Everything is just working well for her right now, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” Austin said. “I’m not going to complain about it. I’m just going to take what she gives us every time out there. She wants it and is pitching her heart out.”
The right-hander said it is hard to describe what is happening out in the circle for her thus far this postseason.
“I was nervous before the first batter, but once I struck her out I knew that we had it,” she said. “It is important to stay focused and concentrate on every at-bat because if you get too far ahead of yourself, it can lead to errors.
“For me personally it is hard to describe the feeling when all your pitches are working. I think it is a product of just how hard I have worked this past offseason and all season long.”