SULPHUR – The tale of softball teams from two adjoining parishes featured triumph and agony at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball Championships on Friday.
Top-seeded St. Amant fell behind early and never regained its footing in an 8-1 quarterfinal loss to No. 9 Pineville. The other Ascension Parish team, No. 10 East Ascension, saw a 9-1 lead evaporate as second-seeded Ouachita rallied for an 11-10 win.
At the end of the day Livingston Parish-based Live Oak and Denham Springs were still standing. Third-seeded LOHS ousted Alexandria 3-1, while No. 5 Denham Springs outlasted Mount Carmel 9-8 to advance in the games played at Frasch Park.
“I just think both areas (Ascension and Livingston) play really good softball,” DSHS coach David Bourque said. “We came out on top today. But I’m sure there will be a day when they come out on top. Today it was us, and we’ll take it.”
With its win, Denham Springs (22-5) advances to play Pineville (22-8) in one of the two 5A semifinals at 1 p.m. Live Oak (24-3) meets Ouachita Parish (24-3) in the other.
There were big hits and pivotal plays aplenty in the 5A games. Savannah Hall hit a monstrous two-run home run to lead Live Oak.
East Ascension’s Carmisha Payton had a three-run home that was nearly a grand slam. Denham Springs freshman Jaden Accardo’s three-run homer keyed a four-run inning that helped erase a 6-2 lead.
The story in St. Amant’s loss to Pineville was the productive Rebels offense. PHS’ leadoff hitter Rebecca Martin was 4-for-4 and scored three runs, while No. 2 hitter Sarah Deselle added two hits.
St. Amant coach Scott Nielson offered the opposite scenario.
“This was a tough one,” Nielson said. “It didn’t start out well in the first inning. We gave up a couple of hits, and then you look up and we are down 2-0. We really just never recovered after that.
“We are not going to let this one game define our season. There are a lot of teams that wish that they were 30-3. We have 10 kids that worked very hard for a long period of time.”
PINEVILLE 8, ST. AMANT 1: Martin and Desselle both singled and scored in the top of first to give PHS the lead. Allie Williams’ two-run homer in the third made it a 4-1 game. The Rebels added four runs in the sixth.
Jordan Hartman and Kara Gremillion each finished with two hits for St. Amant. Gremillion doubled in the bottom of the first and scored on a single by Hartman. The Gators stranded eight runners. Pineville’s Bailyn Allen struck out nine and scattered eight hits.
“We played them earlier this year in the Sulphur tournament,” Pineville coach Mark Mertens said. “We knew that if we came out here and pitched like we were suppose to pitch and hit like we are capable of hitting that we could beat them.”
LIVE OAK 3, ALEXANDRIA 1: A year ago Amanda Holliday and Savannah Hall found themselves in opposite roles, with Hall doing more pitching. Hall’s two-run shot set the tone for Holliday and the Eagles.
“Amanda is having a great pitching year,” LOHS coach Michelle Morris said. “We couldn’t afford to have Savannah out of the game, and we’ve been using her as a DH for quite a while now. She’s hit a couple of home runs that have saved us.”
Holliday struck out six and walked only three for the Eagles, who were semifinalists a year ago.
“It was great,” Hall said of the home run. “I prepared myself to get a base hit. I was not expecting that but it works.”
OUACHITA 11, EAST ASCENSION 10: Though her team raced ahead East Ascension coach Amy Pitre said she never felt the lead was safe.
“I was never comfortable,” Pitre said. “The report we got on them is they hit the ball, and they’re going to swing the bats. I think our pitcher (Jessie Watts) gave up a lot of hits to a very good team.”
A notable turning point happened as the Spartans (22-8) were building their lead. Carmisha Payton, who finished 2-for-2, hit what appeared to be a grand slam. But one EAHS runner was called out because she missed home plate and was touched by a teammate before going back to the plate.
The Spartans scored nine of their 10 runs in the first three innings and had 13 hits. Ouachita scored all but one of its runs after the second inning and had 18 hits. Kat Lee scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Watts was 3-for-4 for EAHS. Victoria Pederson was 3-for-5 for OHS.
DENHAM SPRINGS 9, MOUNT CARMEL 8: MCA (21-9) loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but senior pitcher Chelsea Lewis got a ground out to end the game. She struck out five and allowed eight hits in six innings.
Bailey Hughes was 3-for-3 and Brittany Case finished 3-for-4 to power the Yellow Jackets on offense.
After Accardo helped tie it in the fifth, DSHS took the lead with three runs in the sixth. Maggie Hinson doubled, while Case and Hughes singled, with Hughes bringing home two runs.
Alaina Guarino was 2-for-4 and had a first-inning home run for Mount Carmel.