For the past five years, the champion of District 6-5A softball has resided in Mandeville with the Fontainebleau Bulldogs.
The 2016 version of the Slidell Tigers are on their way to breaking that streak.
Winners of seven consecutive games and capping off a 4-0 week in district, Slidell (12-4, 8-0) defeated Covington 10-3 Thursday afternoon at home.
“I feel like all our hard work is starting to pay off,” Riley Herdliska said. “Now the rest of this district is gunning for us; we are not gunning for them anymore. We are playing as a team right now, and when that happens, we are tough to beat. If one part falters, the other part steps up to fill the missing space. Our pitching is on point and we are hitting the ball and playing good defense.”
Covington score two runs in the top of the first inning, but Slidell answered with three runs in its first at-bat. Allison Vincent reached on an error, stole second base and scored on a throwing error. Qimmah Burdine was hit by a pitch and Tamara Larche walked. With runners on first and second base with two out, Herdliska hit a two-run triple into the left field corner to give the Tigers a 3-2 advantage.
Slidell extended its lead to 5-2 in the third inning on a RBI triple by shortstop Angel Nickolas, and a Covington error, which allowed the second run of the inning to score.
“Six seniors that have played together for four seasons are what is driving this team,” Slidell coach Robin Herdliska said. “Everybody else is falling into suit. It is just clicking this year. Everybody on this team knows their role and is putting their time in.
“We are hitting the ball extremely well right now. We struggled at first, but now we are back on track. It is just getting better and better. The weather hasn’t helped things either. It has not allowed us to get into any sort of a rhythm. We just wrapped up a week where we played four district games in a single week, so you have no time to really get into a rhythm.”
The Lions (2-9, 1-5) to cut the lead to 5-3 in the fifth inning on a bases-loaded, RBI groundout by Shaleigh Laird, but Covington only scored one run in the inning. The Lions left six runners on base.
“Our team has to grow up and learn,” Lions coach Christine Beauvais said. “Our team has to realize that they have to play all parts of the game consistently throughout. In the innings that mattered, (Slidell) was aggressive and we were apprehensive. They were powerful, and we were uncertain of what we were doing. Slidell is one of the better hitting teams in our district. We had them on the ropes a couple of times but didn’t have the knockout punch in us.”
Larche picked up the complete-game win in the circle, allowing three earned runs on five hits, striking out six and walking three.