The sign has hung in the dressing room all year long.
It reads Menard 10, Hannan 0.
Heading into last season’s state softball tournament, a talented, but inexperienced Archbishop Hannan squad played possibly its worst game of the season against Menard in the 2A state quarterfinals.
Menard won 10-0 and did it in convincing fashion with a no-hitter and 10-run mercy rule.
Fast forward to 2016, Hannan returns to the state softball tournament in Sulphur a year older, and, coach Becky Lambert hopes, with less nerves.
“Last year, I believe, helped this team out a lot,” Lambert said. “They know what to expect now, and know what it is like. Losing 10-0 like they did put a bad taste in their mouth. We have had to carry that around for a whole season. I believe this team will be ready. I honestly believe we have yet to play our best game.”
Sixth-seeded Hannan (21-8) opens up play in Sulphur at noon Friday when it takes on third-seeded Rosepine (22-4).
“I think we are starting to play some really good softball right now,” Lambert said. “The last five to six games we have really played well together. We just have to keep it up, because we are playing well at the right time.”
It was Lambert’s idea to put the sign in the dressing room of the final score from Hannan’s final game a season ago.
“I put it up in January of this year,” she said. “At first the players said we don’t like it, but we like it. It was a reminder to them of how they felt after that game and drove them to get back to Sulphur for the state tournament this season.
“They look at that sign and it motivates them. Our goal was to not only get back this season, but we want to be playing on Saturday.”
Lindsey Osbon, the team’s second-leading hitter with a .434 average who is tied for the team lead with 41 RBIs said she thinks the Hawks will be ready.
“Last year you are talking about a team where you only had three players who had been there (to Sulphur) before,” the junior third baseman said. “Only three of us had played on the field in a state tournament game. Having been there last year against a good team, I believe will get us ready for this year.”
Sophomore right-hander Allie Hutton (14-6, 1.96 ERA) has been the Hawks’ workhorse in the circle. In 1211?3 innings, Hutton has allowed only 34 earned runs, while striking out 108 and walking 17.
“The sign in the dressing room has kept us going all year long,” Hutton said. “It makes us do better each and every day. We have learned our lessons now. I know, for me, I was nervous last year being a freshman. Everybody is back on this team from a season ago. We are a year older and that speaks volumes.”