WATSON —The mighty game-ending, grand slam from Live Oak senior Savannah Hall punctuated more than Saturday’s 15-0 Class 5A state regional playoff victory over No. 12 Evangel.
It also helped bury the disappointment the Eagles endured in a one-run loss to Zachary at this same juncture a year ago.
“We just knew we didn’t want end there again,” Hall said. “We were going all the way. That’s been our goal since the beginning of the season. We’re headed to state.”
No. 5 Live Oak (24-6) did so emphatically, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first en route to a mercy-rule win with Hall’s shot to center field stopping the game with no outs in the third.
The Eagles won their sixth consecutive game and advance to Friday’s Class 5A state quarterfinal against No. 13 Pineville in the Fast Pitch 56 state tournament in Sulphur.
“I felt they were excited the whole game,” Live Oak coach Michelle Morris said. “It is a big game to go to state, and I know there were a couple of upsets around the state. They were watching that, but they never blinked. They were full throttle all the way.”
Live Oak loaded the bases in each of the three innings with 16 batters reaching safely — 11 hits and five walks — in 22 plate appearances against Evangel pitchers Emily Deramus and Tally Turnbow.
Shortstop Lauren Brown (3-for-3, RBI) was one of three players to register multiple hits along with right fielder Cameron Seals (2-2, triple, three RBIs) and catcher Brett Levia (2-2, homer, three RBIs).
“They have a really good hitting team and came out and they were just hitting the ball,” Evangel coach Amanda Juneau, whose team finished 21-9 in its first season in Class 5A. “We struggled with our spots, and I think the pitching staff was a just a little bit off. That didn’t help.”
Ally Howard’s high chopper over third base resulted in the first two runs for Live Oak with Leiva capping a six-run opening inning with a three-run homer to center.
Howard drove in another run in the second with a sacrifice fly and Seals added a two-run triple to the gap in right-center field for a 9-0 lead.
Hall only needed 54 pitches, 39 of which were strikes, to get through Evangel’s lineup. She allowed three hits and struck out five.
Brown and Giselle Ash registered back-to-back, bases-loaded singles up the middle to make it 11-0 in the third, when Hall, who popped out to right with the bases loaded in the first, went out in style in her final home game.
Hall clobbered a 1-1 pitch to end the game and set off fireworks just beyond the fence in center field.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to end my senior year, the last game on our home field,” Hall said. “I’m ready to go to state. I’m ready to go all the way.”