METAIRIE — Regina Baxter hates changeups. Despises them.
Despite being Mount Carmel Academy’s home run leader, Baxter said she doesn’t have the patience to wait on the pitch. She’d prefer to swing at inside pitches.
“I’m pretty sure everybody in 5A softball knows I can’t hit a changeup,” Baxter joked.
Well, at least until Monday afternoon. That’s when she saw the infamous pitch then waited and waited before sending it over the left field at the JPRD Softball Complex, ending the 5-3 bidistrict playoff game against 24th-seeded New Iberia with a game-winning home run.
Her shot sparked a delayed celebration for ninth-seeded Mount Carmel, winners of their first playoff game in three seasons. It took everyone from fans to the players to realize Baxter’s shot cleared the fence, moving the Cubs into the second round.
Mount Carmel will play the winner of eighth-seeded East Ascension and 25th-seeded Sulphur in the second round of the playoffs.
Baxter was the catalyst, slamming a two-run home run in the third inning and a second with the game tied in the bottom of the seventh. She now has six homers this spring.
“I work on it all the time in practice,” Baxter said. “I get thrown it all the time in games, so it felt great to finally connect with one and pull the win out for my team because they work so team, and I wanted to give them this win.”
Teammate Samantha Dares also drove in a run for Mount Carmel (21-7) in the first inning.
“The girls have been trained to hang in there when we get down,” coach Jake Pierron said. “We’ve had a few games when we’ve got down, tied it up and came out and won.”
Monday’s playoff game followed suit.
Mount Carmel led 3-1 in the fifth when Kayla Rogers of New Iberia singled to left-center to drive in two runs.
In the top of the seventh, Mount Carmel pitcher Caitlyn Beteze (16-6) got out of a rough patch with two runners on base. Alaina Guarino caught a foul ball and threw out the pinch-runner at second.
In the bottom of the inning, Guarino reached on a walk. Samantha Dares followed with a hard shot to the outfield, but it was caught. Baxter followed with a harder shot.
“I didn’t think it was going over (the fence),” said Guarino, who scored three runs. “And then I saw hands go up (in the stands).”
New Iberia ends the season at 16-9. Starting pitcher Valerie Auroiu, who had five strikeouts, was the school’s lone senior.
“All our pitches to her were off the plate,” New Iberia coach Mitzi Lalande said of Baxter, who went 2-for-4. “She’s just a good hitter. She wanted the hit. She stepped over there and got it. They’re a great team. I wish them luck in the next round.”