GONZALES — East Ascension High softball coach Amy Pitre asked her team to score one insurance run to pad a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. EAHS gave her eight runs instead.
Sixth-seeded East Ascension topped No. 11 seed Walker 11-1 in Class 5A second-round playoff action Friday at Lady Spartan Park.The victory sends the East Ascension to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 tournament next weekend in Sulphur.
“I said just give me one more (run) going into the seventh inning,” Pitre said. “Give Jessie (Watts) one more run because of the way Jessie was pitching. Jessie started getting stronger in the fifth. They weren’t going to score four runs in one inning on Jessie.”
East Ascension (22-7) came out swinging, scoring two runs on four hits in the bottom of the first. After a couple lackluster innings that saw the Spartans retired in order, East Ascension scratched across another run in the bottom of the fifth to claim a 3-1 lead.
“The first inning we saw the ball so well,” Pitre said. “It felt like we came out on fire, and then I think we got a little over anxious. The strike zone was little different than we are used to tonight, and for a minute there we were just too aggressive.”
Walker (16-13) scored its lone run in the top of third inning when Kelsey Cifreo singled in Morgan Berry. Cifreo finished 2-for-2 with an RBI. The Wildcats finished with only four hits.
“They’re a great team, and we worked to prepare for them as best we could,” Walker coach Nicole Dufour said. “That’s one of the better pitchers in the area, and when we’re used to scoring a big amount, and we’re not able to that, it kind of throws us off our game.”
Cifreo’s second single led to a key momentum shifting play in the top of the sixth inning. EAHS catcher Mackenzie Andrews gunned Cifreo down in an attempt to steal second base following the leadoff hit.
“Not many people have really tested Mackenzie this year,” Pitre said. “I’m usually on her when I know there’s speed (on base), and I was not expecting them to steal right there. For (Andrews) to be that quick caught me off guard.”
Watts notched the victory, recording five strikeouts, three walks and scattering four hits.
“It took (Watts) a couple innings to adjust to the strike zone, and once she did that, she was rolling right along,” Pitre said. “Jessie is good in big games. This game she got stronger as the game went along. Once she got familiar and adjusted to where she needed to pitch the ball, I think she had her way.”
Watts also powered the Lady Spartans offensively, recording three of East Ascension’s 16 hits to go along with two RBIs. Andrews finished 3-for-4 with an RBI. Third baseman Brea Aikens batted 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Shortstop Claire Weinberger batted 2-for-4, with a two-RBI triple.
“We did everything we could defensively, and it kind of bottomed out on us at the end,” Dufour said.
East Ascension will face the Live Oak-Zachary winner in the 5A quarterfinals at the LHSAA’s Fast Pitch 56 state tournament next week in Sulphur.