WATSON — Sometimes, a towering home run or a diving catch is the difference maker that propels a team to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Softball Tournament.
Live Oak High softball coach Michelle Morris stresses the little things, like running the bases and getting the bat on the ball. A combination of the two lifted fourth-seeded LOHS to a 4-3, eight-inning victory over No. 13 Pineville High in Class 5A regional playoff action Saturday at the Live Oak Sports Complex.
Freshman courtesy runner Ashton Priester raced home from the third to score the winning run after Meagan Louviere slapped the ball just hard enough to bounce off the glove of Pineville pitcher Bailey Allen for a split second.
“She (Morris) told me if it was hit at all to stay, but I took a chance,” Priester said. “I was willing to do it for my team. When the ball went off the bat, I took off and when it went off her (Allen’s) glove, it made it a little easier.”
With the win, Live Oak (24-5) advances to play No. 5 Fontainebleau in a 2 p.m. state tourney quarterfinal Friday at Sulphur’s Frasch Park. Pineville finishes 18-10. It is the second straight 5A berth for the District 4-5A champion Eagles.
“We have a very fast team,” Morris said. “We always joke that out of our nine we’ve got one slow one. My courtesy runner is our fastest runner. And No. 6 (Louviere), is the second fastest, so there was the combo.
“But I have to give props to my catcher (Katelynn McLin). If she wouldn’t have gotten on, I wouldn’t have had the situation to use a courtesy runner. We also got a beautiful bunt by another freshman, Ally Howard. There was no big hit, it was putting little things together.”
Savannah Hall scattered nine hits and struck out nine to pick up the win. Louviere and Lauren Brown each finished 3-for-5 at the plate. The Eagles’ Sarah Sepeda went 2-for-3.
PHS’ Allen yielded 12 hits and only struck out two but managed to keep Live Oak off balance in the middle innings by changing locations. Allen also was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and solo home run. Camille Faircloth was 2-for-4 for the Rebels.
Live Oak jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second inning before Pineville battled back to tie it. There was controversy in the top of the seventh when Pineville tied it at 3-3. Ellen Albritton drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on Payten Collins’ single to left field.
Nicole Sanders doubled to left-center, scoring Albritton. The umpires said the remaining baserunners left their respective bases and were called for hesitation after that play because no timeout had been granted. One runner was called out. LOHS’ Hall then got an infield pop up to end the inning.
“It was very unfortunate we had some calls not go our way, but that’s the way it goes,” Pineville coach Dave Moreau said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Live Oak. Live Oak is a good team.
“I’m proud of my kids for coming back. We made a couple of mistakes. The bottom line is they made one extra play more than we did.”
Pineville scored first. Camile Fairchild singled, was sacrificed to second and took third on a single by Allen and scored on an error. Hailey Freeman led off with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. Howard’s single scored Freeman.
Lauren Brown’s single moved Howard all the way to third and Brown then stole second. One out later, Brooke Morris hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing Howard to score. Brown later scored on another throw on the same play, making it 3-1.
Allen pulled Pineville closer with a solo home run to center in the top of the sixth. Pineville tied it in the seventh. McLin opened the LOHS eighth by reaching after a pop-up bounced out of the glove of a charging Pineville fielder. Priester came on and took second on Howard’s sacrifice. Brown hit into a fielder’s choice that sent Priester to third, setting up Louviere’s infield hit.