Twice, Belle Chasse found itself in a precarious situation.
However, the Cardinals buckled down, forced a few grounders and wiggled their way out of each instance to escape with a 3-2 victory at home against Chapelle on Tuesday.
“We faced Chapelle before and started out fairly sloppy,” Belle Chasse coach Stephanie Andrews said. “So, we knew this would be a tough challenge for us. The girls really stepped up and made some critical plays that saved us and made sure this game didn’t have a much different outcome.”
Belle Chasse (16-6) positioned itself out front through the first three innings. Felicia Barber hit a bloop single over the head of Chappelle pitcher Samantha Mracich to drive in the first run with one out in the bottom of the first.
Following a ground out which advanced a runner to third, the Cardinals doubled the cushion via a fielder’s choice RBI to third base from Haley Johnson. The 2-0 lead lasted one inning thanks to Hayley Barbazon’s instincts and feet. She jetted home on a wild pitch to add the third run for Belle Chasse, which surrendered two hits to the Chipmunks during that span.
“Mallory has been sick the last week,” Andrews said. “I’m not sure she was as strong as she usually is, but she pitched a really good game for us and made it tough for them to get hits.”
Until the third. That’s when Horton briefly stumbled. The right-hander walked three consecutive batters to load the bases with no outs.
“Coach came to the mound asking me whether I wanted to come out of the game during one of those situations, but I told her to trust in me,” Horton said. “I knew I could finish out the game and get those outs for my team. I just had to get back to pitching the way that I know that I can.”
So, the right-hander trudged forward. And Chapelle’s Hailey Pursell smashed a sacrifice-fly RBI to centerfield to narrow the deficit to two runs before the Cardinals fielded a pair of grounders, halting the Chipmunks’ surge.
Chapelle threatened again in the next inning with three consecutive base hits with three bases runners and one out. But the inning unfolded in identical fashion as Horton snatched a line drive and then threw out a Chapelle baserunner scrambling back to third.
“I’m thankful for them, my teammates,” said Horton, who struck out seven.
“They made some great defensive plays, which helped us get out of those jams. This season wouldn’t be this season without the way my teammates have been playing. We had a lot of defensive mistakes last year that could be fixed, and they fixed them, which has made us much tougher.”