St. Thomas More catchers Bailey Hemphill, Chase Vallot named Outstanding Players in 4A _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- St. Thomas More's Bailey Hemphill batted .630, with 17 homers and 56 RBIs.

SULPHUR — St. Thomas More pounded out 14 hits and scored eight runs in the first three innings to defeat Vandebilt Catholic 11-5 and capture the Class 4A state title at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball Championships on Saturday night at Frasch Park.

With the win, STM (23-5) claimed its second straight 4A title and the school’s seventh.

Eight of the nine Cougars starters collected hits, and STM scored runs in the first four innings. Tori Andrus’ two-run single in the first inning made it 2-0. Sending 11 batters to the plate in the second, STM extended its lead to 7-0 in the second inning. With one out, Lexxi Gauthreaux singled and stole second base. Whitney Romero and Courtney Halsell followed with back-to-back RBI doubles, and Bailey Hemphill added an RBI single. After Andrus walked with two outs, Lauren Fontenot singled, and Alison Derise knocked in two more runs with a two-run double to end the scoring.

Jamie Landry knocked in a run in the third on an RBI fielder’s choice, and Romero launched a solo homer an inning later to make it 9-1.

After Vandebilt pushed across three unearned runs in the fifth inning, STM answered with a pair of runs in the sixth inning on RBI doubles by Romero and Hemphill to make it 11-4. Hemphill, a sophomore catcher and Alabama commitment, finished with three hits and two RBIs.

“I am glad we were hitting the ball because it was ugly for us defensively,” STM coach Andria Waguespack said. “We hit the ball really hard tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited for my kids. Our game plan from the get-go was to be aggressive, and we scored eight runs in the first three innings. We did exactly what we wanted to do offensively.”

Named Most Outstanding Player for the title game, Romero picked up the win, allowing five runs (four unearned) on 13 hits. She went 3-for-4 with a two doubles, a home run and three RBIs, along with two runs scored.

ST. THOMAS MORE 4, W est Ouachita 2: The Cougars advanced to the championship game with a semifinal victory over No. 17 West Ouachita.

The Cougars pushed across a run in the first inning on an RBI groundout by Hemphill and three more in the third behind an RBI single from Courtney Halsell and a two-run single from Tori Andrus.

Whitney Romero picked up the complete-game win in the circle, allowing two unearned runs on four hits and striking out seven.