WATSON — Even though her team battled back from an 8-1 deficit and briefly held the lead, Sam Houston softball coach Beth Domingue conceded the advantage went to Live Oak in the final inning.
“We talk about winning every inning, and they won more innings than we did,” Domingue said. “It was an offensive game today. They got the timely hits. Going into the seventh inning with the score tied they were right where they wanted to be.”
Leadoff hitter Payton Gremillion doubled and scored on a double by freshman Gisselle Ash as third-seeded Live Oak rallied in the bottom of the seventh to claim a 10-9 victory over No. 14 Sam Houston in a Class 5A regional playoff game Friday at Live Oak Sports Park.
With the win, third-seeded Live Oak (23-3) advances to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball tournament for the third straight season. The Eagles will play Alexandria Senior High in next week’s quarterfinal round at Sulphur’s Frasch Park. The teams combined for 26 hits in a game of momentum swings. LOHS pounded out 17 hits, including eight extra-base hits.
Gremillion, a Nicholls State signee, was 3-for-3 with a double, her first career home run, two RBIs and four runs. Katelynn McLin was 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Lauren Brown finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Jayden Dukes finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Sam Houston (21-8).
“Even when we had the big lead, we were reminding (Live Oak players) that Sam Houston was going to get hits and score runs,” LOHS coach Michelle Morris said. “It was their tendency from previous games. But we feel like we have a lot of hitters.
“When they rallied we wanted to stop momentum. We felt like Amanda Holliday (LOHS pitcher) could get the upper hand on the batters. There were some plays we probably should have made, but we reminded (Holliday) that her defense would back her up.”
Sam Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first when Carley Chaumont walked and scored on an infield hit by Dukes. Live Oak countered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Gremillion and Brown singled. Two outs later, Abby Howard singled to score Gremillion.
The Eagles upped their lead to 4-1 in the second. Back-to-back doubles by McLin and Kelsey Miller produced one run. Gremillion followed with a two-run home run to right field made it 4-1.
LOHS added four more runs in the third by sending nine batters to the plate. Howard walked. One out later Cameron Seals doubled to start the hit parade. McLin singled to score one run and Miller’s second double scored another.
Gremillion walked and later scored on an error, while Brown also had an RBI hit. As it turned out the 8-1 lead was anything but secure.
The Broncos scored three times in the fifth and tacked on five more runs in the sixth. Marcella Myers’ two-RBI single was Sam Houston’s key hit in the fifth. A couple of LOHS errors contributed to the sixth-inning scoring as Sam Houston sent nine batters to the plate. The first five Broncos got on base and scored.
Taylor Edwards had a double in the inning and Dukes also had a two-RBI double.
Live Oak tied it in the bottom of the sixth. Virginia Cacioppo singled. Pinch runner Breanna Stout took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Savannah Hall.
Holliday (15-3) yielded a one-out hit in the seventh but retired the next two batters, getting a called third strike on leadoff batter Abby Jolie.
“I had to pitch the ball where was I supposed to pitch it,” the left-hander said. “And I knew my defense had my back all the way.”
Gremillion led off the seventh and worked it to a 3-2 count before slicing a double near the left-field line.
“I knew I just needed a hard, level base hit,” Gremillion said. “I had to make contact and put it out there in the grass somewhere.”
Brown was hit by a pitch before Ash, who was 0-for-3 before the seventh, smacked the game-winner to left.
“I had to focus on the ball and keep it (bat) level,” Ash said. “As I was rounding first I started crying. I knew we made it. … We fought through the game.”