When Hahnville softball coach Kenny Vial imagined this day, he didn’t picture it quite this way.
He certainly didn’t see his team’s season — and his 33-year coaching career — coming to an end in the bidistrict round of the Class 5A playoffs, after Alexandria scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to take an 8-5 victory. But that’s how it went. And that’s how both ended.
Alexandria, the No. 27 seed, knocked the No. 6 seed Lady Tigers out of the playoffs with a huge seventh-inning rally, during which the Trojans batted around to rally from a 4-2 deficit. Besides a pair of singles by Alexandria’s batters in the inning, Hahnville helped the Trojans with a trio of walks, an error, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a fielder’s choice that failed to result in an out. It was just one of those innings, said Vial, who has announced his retirement from coaching.
“It got out of hand,” Vial said. “We knew going in they were a good team and they had the top of their lineup coming up. The bottom line is, we felt as coaches, playing in the district we’re playing in, the thing that we didn’t have many chances of doing was getting into a seventh inning of a softball game. When you play as many games as we’ve played that were three innings and five innings, that’s a disaster getting into this. We knew they were a good team. We talked to plenty of people from north Louisiana that said, they were at (No.) 27 team, but they should have been a single-digit seed.”
Hahnville won 14 games by the 10-run mercy rule this season, eight in District 7-5A alone with four shutouts.
Alexandria (13-12), meanwhile, played four of its games without starting pitcher Carrie Boswell after she suffered a concussion diving to make a tag during a game. On Monday, she held the Tigers to five hits, but two of those were towering solo home runs. Bryce Button hit one in the third inning, and Jourdyn Hogan hit one in the seventh. Taylor Hogan, Maeson Martindale and Caitlyn Robinson all managed singles off of Boswell, who also walked three and struck out three. The Trojans also committed five errors.
Trojans coach Phyllis Thiels chastised her team for waiting until the last minute to take control of the game, but she was glad they did. The Trojans will play the Chapelle-Dutchtown winner in the regional round.
“Our girls don’t quit,” Thiels said. “This was a prime example of how they don’t quit. They’re going to fight all the way through.”
Alexandria jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a Hahnville error, a fielder’s choice by Sabrina Thiels and hits by Ashley Welch and Ella Manzer. Tigers pitcher Lauren Beadle gave up seven hits, but she also walked seven, and the Tigers committed three errors.
Hahnville tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the first inning after Boswell walked Tigers leadoff batter Pryscilla Prince and Taylor Hogan bunted for a hit. Prince scored on a fielder’s shoice by Maddison LeBlanc and Hogan scored on a dropped fly ball sent to the outfield by Jourdyn Hogan. Button put Hahnville ahead 3-2 with her solo blast into the trees in right center field. The Tigers made it 4-2 in the fifth when Martindale reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, advanced on a ground-out and scored on a wild pitch.
After Alexandria’s late heroics, fans from both sides helped honor Vial. In 12 seasons, Vial accumulated a record of 129-84, leading the Tigers to 13 playoff appearances (23-10), six state tournament appearances and the 2011 Class 5A state championship. Feted with gifts and balloons from his sobbing players, as well as a hearty ovation from the fans, Vial said he has no second thoughts.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m going to go play golf, go fishing, go crabbing, go to Grand Isle, go watch my kids play. I appreciate everything they’ve done, the kids and the parents. But when you’re ready, you’re ready.”