SULPHUR — All it took was the first two batters of the game.
A triple and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the first inning was all top-seeded North DeSoto needed as it defeated No. 20 seed Cabrini 1-0 in the Class 4A state softball semifinals Saturday afternoon at Frasch Park.
“That one inning just got us,” Crescents starting pitcher Karli Perque said. “We stayed in the game throughout. We just couldn’t come back from that first inning.”
Emily Henderson led off first inning for North DeSoto (26-1) with a triple. Two pitches later, Henderson scored on Sami Walters bunt to give the Griffins all the runs they would need.
“I felt like we hit the ball well,” Cabrini coach Shannon Austin said. “We just didn’t piece together our hits today.”
Cabrini (16-11) had its share of chances to tie the game.
In the third inning, the Crescents had runners on second and third with two outs.
Katelyn Puinno lined a shot into right field for what looked like a tying RBI single, but North DeSoto’s Haily Ebey threw her out at first, her second assist of the game to end the threat.
“We hit the ball really hard,” Austin said. “It was a shot at (Ebey) both times. To her credit, she made two good plays.”
The best threat for Cabrini came in its last at-bat. The Crescents loaded the bases with one out. However, Alexis Groce grounded out and Christie Runnels popped up to the catcher to end the game and the season for Cabrini.
Going up against one of the better hitting teams in the state, Perque was the losing pitcher. In six innings, she allowed one run on four hits, striking out four and walking one.
“Give North DeSoto credit,” Perque said. “They are the top-ranked team in Class 4A for a reason. It was a good game.”
Bidding farewell to six seniors, Austin said she was proud of her team’s season and looks forward to a bright future in 2016.
“As a coaching staff, you couldn’t have asked for anything else from this team,” she said.
“They fought until the absolute end. We are losing six seniors who will be missed. Our younger players have learned from their great examples and hopefully they can help lead us back here next year.”
One of those returning players, Perque, a junior, said she is also excited about what the future has in store.
“We have all grown together,” she said. “Especially the underclassmen. Coming into the season we weren’t close but we have started to get to know each other and now we are very close. Hopefully we can finish what we started here in 2016.”