Until the fifth inning, Dutchtown’s softball season appeared it would be ushered out quietly.
Archbishop Chapelle right-hander Samantha Mracich had completely silenced the Griffins’ offense to that point, protecting a four-run lead along the way.
No. 11 Dutchtown rallied, though, scoring twice in the fifth and once more in the sixth. But it couldn’t completely dig itself out of an early hole, dropping a 4-3 decision to No. 22 Chapelle in Tuesday’s Class 5A bidistrict state playoff.
“We’ve been in situations where we didn’t start scoring until the middle of the game and towards the end and we’ve won some games that way,” Dutchtown coach Nancy Ensminger said. “My team’s done a good job of knowing it’s not over.”
Dutchtown, which was 6-0 in one-run games coming into the playoffs, failed to advance past the first round for the first time in five years and finished 21-10.
“They did the best they could, made the playoffs and I wish we could have gone further,” Ensminger said. “All good things must come to an end.”
Conversely, Chapelle (19-8) snapped a three-year losing streak in opening-round games and is rewarded with a home game in the regionals later this week against No. 27 Alexandria, an 8-5 upset winner over No. 6 Hahnville.
“For the last three years I kept saying we were a young team, and now we’re getting a little more mature,” said Chapelle coach Wendy Zucconi, whose team has won 9 of its last 12 games. “They’ve worked hard. Our hits are coming around and the defense is getting pretty solid. Everything’s falling into place.”
Dutchtown finally broke through in the fifth with two runs against Mracich after two were out.
No. 9 batter Katie Cloud singled sharply to left, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Bailey Gilleon’s RBI-single up the middle. Gilleon then scored on consecutive wild pitches during Blayne Pence’s at-bat.
The Griffins closed to within the final score in the sixth on a throwing error that pulled first baseman Kelsey Conley off the bag, enabling courtesy runner Kayla Prestenbach to score from second on the play.
Mracich (17-7) didn’t allow Dutchtown to get any closer, setting down the Griffins in order in the seventh. She walked two and struck out three, throwing 64 of 107 pitches for strikes.
“In softball, you always have that one inning where the other team scores,” Zucconi said. “I’m glad we kind of got that out of the way. We felt a little comfortable.”
Mracich, the team’s leadoff batter, triggered a 15-hit output with a 3-for-5 performance, along with catcher Randi DeArmitt (3-for-5, double), Conley (2-for-4) and left fielder Natalie Romano (2-for-5, RBI, double).
Chapelle built a 3-0 lead with two runs in the third with Rachel Ledet doubling in a run to left and later scoring on Conley’s RBI single to center.
The Chipmunks added an unearned run an inning later on Emily Belanger’s bloop single to shallow right field off losing pitcher Ali McCoy (9-5), who allowed two earned runs, walked one and stranded 13 base runners.
“I’m kind of disappointed we didn’t push through,” Ensminger said. “I thought they fought back toward the end pretty hard.”