DUTCHTOWN — Just after crossing first base, Dutchtown’s Royelle Cobb looked skyward.
With her two previous plate appearances proving unsuccessful — a strikeout and pop up — Cobb did just enough to turn her first hit of the game into a life-long experience.
Cobb lifted a 1-0 pitch into shallow left field to cap a three-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth, and pitcher Ali McCoy retired the side in the seventh for a 3-2 victory Sunday over Hahnville in a Class 5A state regional playoff game.
“I was running, and I knew it wasn’t hit that hard,” Cobb said. “I was about to step on first when I saw it drop. I said, ‘Thank you, God’. It was enough to push through.”
The late-game theatrics propelled No. 7 Dutchtown back to the Allstate/LHSAA Fast Pitch state tournament after a year’s absence, setting up a Friday quarterfinal matchup with No. 2 Mt. Carmel at Sulphur’s Frasch Park No. 15 at 4 p.m.
“At this point there’s a lot of pressure that everyone in our parish has already qualified to go,” Dutchtown coach Nancy Ensminger said. “That might have been a little bit of a factor why they took so long to make it happen. Hey, it’s a win.”
Dutchtown, which split a pair of games with Hahnville (21-9) during the regular season, encountered difficulty trying to solve Tigers starting pitcher Lauren Beadle, who faced just three over the minimum batters through five innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
Right fielder Bailey Gilleon lined a shot off Beadle for Dutchtown’s first hit and third baseman Hope Vezinat (2-for-3) doubled with two outs in the fourth inning.
“I thought she pitched well and kept us off balanced,” Ensminger said. “At the end, there’s seven innings. It’s not over until it’s over. We had enough innings in there and here we are going to state.”
Winning pitcher Ali McCoy (24-8), who threw 81 of 124 pitches for strikes, yielded five hits but trailed 2-0 after run-scoring singles by Madison Freman in the third and Maeson Martindale in the fifth.
However, McCoy kept her team at arm’s length by stranding four base runners in scoring position. First baseman Rachel Newcomer made two catches in foul territory and shortstop Taylor Heck registered a put out and assist, including a diving grab of a liner going to her right in the hole.
“It was huge because if we wouldn’t have held them who knows what could have happened,” McCoy said.
McCoy’s infield single ignited a stretch of four straight, two-out hits with back-to-back doubles from Bria White and Vezinat hat tied the game at 2-all. The Griffins then took their first lead of the game on Cobb’s bloop single, scoring Vezinat from second base.
“Usually my nerves get the best of me,” Cobb said. “With that at-bat, I had to calm myself down and really focus on what I was doing. I was proud of our team. It worked out for us.”