When you finish the regular season with a losing record, have no upperclassmen on your roster and have to travel nearly three hours to take on the eighth-seeded softball team in Class 2A, there’s reason to believe you may be happy just to make the playoffs.
But for the Opelousas Catholic softball team, “one and done” was not enough.
Instead, they’ll advance.
The Vikings traveled to Slidell on Tuesday afternoon to play the Pope John Paul II Jaguars in a bidistrict playoff game. Despite what could be considered odds against them, they left with a 6-4 win over the eighth seed in the Class 2A postseason.
Opelousas Catholic (13-15) next will face Springfield in a regional playoff.
Pope John Paul II (18-11) was the more experienced team, but it struggled against the Vikings. Both teams had six hits and the Vikings committed five errors. But Pope John Paul II couldn’t get a offensive spark when it needed it most. The Jaguars stranded 11 base runners and seemed off balanced against Opelousas Catholic starter Tori Collins.
“We put the ball in play, but we hit the ball at them too,” PJP coach Mark Jeanmard said. “We had mistakes here and there, and in the playoffs you can’t do that.”
Opelousas Catholic scored a run in the top of the first when Anna Lafleur was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a single by Emily Ortega. The Jaguars countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, when Peyton Corwin doubled and scored on the first of the Vikings’ five errors. The same error allowed Chloe Cooper to reach base, and she scored on another infield error to put the Jaguars ahead 2-1.
The score stayed the same until the bottom of the fourth when Pope John Paul II scored twice. Cooper reached on an infield single and scored on another Vikings error. Chelsea Bartholomew drove home Ashley Rodriguez on an RBI-single to left field.
With the Jaguars seemingly taking the game in hand, Opelousas Catholic rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth. Collins singled in the inning, with Ortega and Lauren Miller delivering doubles. Ortega’s was the big hit – a two-RBI shot that got the Vikings to within a run of the lead. Miller and Khaki Phythian scored on errors to put the Vikings up 5-4.
Opelousas Catholic added a run in the sixth when PJP relief pitcher Madison York walked four, and Courtney Thomassee scored.
Pope John Paul II had its chances in the sixth, but it left the bases loaded. Lafleur entered in the seventh and got a strikeout to end the game.
“We start eight freshman, so we’re a young team and hoping to sneak up on a few people without them realizing (what we can do,)” Opelousas Catholic coach Jay Artell said. “We made a few freshman mistakes right in the middle of the game (Tuesday), right in the middle infield. … But they keep fighting.”