Mount Carmel’s softball team is hoping that its third time makes the charm this weekend.
Following its victory over Ponchatoula on Saturday, the second-seeded Cubs advanced to the Fast Pitch 56 in Sulphur for the third consecutive season. They will play No. 7 Dutchtown on Friday for a chance to advance to the semifinals for Class 5A.
While Mount Carmel coach Jake Pierron acknowledges the team’s accomplishments, he said they will be entering Sulphur with only one goal in mind.
“It’s a great accomplishment. I’m really proud of what the team has done over the past few years,” Pierron said. “While we are happy with all the girls have done the past few years, we believe we have an opportunity to compete for the title.”
But along the way, Pierron has hammered home to the team that one message must be consistent if they are to reach their lofty goals.
“We have to approach every game like it’s a season unto itself,” Pierron said. “It can be easy to look ahead and not focus on what’s directly in front of you during these games.
“We do have big goals, but I tell the team that if we are going to get there we have to take it one game at a time.”
For any championship run, the road to success is usually littered with adversity that teams must overcome to reach their ultimate destination.
For the Cubs, that came with their second-round win over Ponchatoula last week.
Mount Carmel began their second-round game against the Green Wave last Friday, and got nearly three innings into the game before rain doused the field and forced the teams to finish the game the following day.
Trailing 2-0 when the game resumed Saturday, Ponchatoula tried to gain momentum with an early run, but Mount Carmel found its groove and ran away with the victory.
“It wasn’t necessarily a good thing, but it’s always good when crazy things happen and we can still come out and finish the game strong,” Pierron said. “Ponchatoula tried to get things going when we came back out Saturday, but our team just wouldn’t let that game get away.”
The Cubs’ quarterfinal game against Dutchtown will be played 4 p.m. Friday in Sulphur at Frasch Park on Field 15.
Cabrini already motivated
Cabrini coach Shannon Austin hasn’t had to say much to motivate her team for their Class 4A quarterfinal game against No. 5 Assumption.
Cabrini was upset in the second round of last year’s playoffs — despite entering the postseason as the No. 1 seed in 4A — and coach Shannon Austin said the team made it their mission all year to make up for the disappointment of last season.
The Crescents play Assumption at 4 p.m. Friday.
“I think being a higher seed last year, they kind of expected to go (to Sulphur). When we lost, I think it kind of crushed them,” Austin said. “But it also gave them motivation to come back this year and be even better.”
One of the main reasons Cabrini (14-10) has breezed through the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs has been because of the dominance displayed by Crescents pitcher Karli Perque.
The junior has pitched 14 innings in the Crescents’ two playoff wins, striking out 28 and only issuing two walks along the way.
She has gone 16.1 innings without allowing a run.
“The past two games, she’s been phenomenal,” Austin said. “She’s worked on moving the ball around and hitting her spots the past few weeks, and you can tell by her performance. I mean, one hit in two playoff games is pretty impressive.”
Comets know where Sulphur is
After missing the trip to Sulphur in 2014, how badly did the St. Charles Catholic softball team want to get back this year?
So badly that coach Ty Monica had T-shirts made with the geographical coordinates of Frasch Park on the back.
“That was our little motivation,” Monica said. “We always want to end our season in Frasch Park. That’s just the Mecca of softball in the state of Louisiana.”
With that motivation — plus a little bit of talent — the Lady Comets will return to their softball Mecca on Friday. St. Charles, the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A bracket, will play No. 7 seed Brusly — a former district foe — in Friday’s quarterfinals at 2 p.m.
It will be the Comets’ 14th appearance overall.
Not making the trip last year did not sit well with the Comets, who had made nine straight appearances before last year. Determined, this year’s team put together a 25-6 record and finished as the No. 2 seed in a tough Class 3A bracket.
And they did it, Monica said, without a go-to pitcher to ride and only a pair of seniors.
“I don’t know that we have had five complete games by a pitcher all season,” Monica said. “We’ve kind of pitched by committee. We’ve used ‘Joe Wholestaff’ all season long.”
Tamara Regalo has heard stories about the state softball tournament in Sulphur.
She has heard about the travel and hotel rooms, about the tight schedules, about the playing fields and the craziness when there are a dozen or so games going on at once. She has heard them from her players.
Regalo is a first-year softball coach, a first-year coach at Riverside Academy. But the Lady Rebels will be making their sixth consecutive trip to Sulphur on Friday. Riverside, the No. 2 seed in Class 2A, will take on No. 10 seed Many at noon. It is Riverside’s 15th trip overall.
Regalo, who came to Riverside this season with coach Tori Sheppard, said it was important to the team to keep its postseason legacy going.
“We didn’t want to drop the baton, you know,” Regalo said. “It was kind of expected for us.”
Regalo needn’t have worried. As usual, the Rebels put together another solid season, going 21-5 and finishing the season with a 16-game winning streak.
“We started off a little slow,” Regalo said. “But then we got things going. With the players we had and the talent level, I was pretty confident.”
The Rebels will be counting on junior pitcher Cheyenne Triche to get them through this weekend’s tough slate. In 16 games she has an earned run average of 1.73, allowing 20 hits.
New chapter for Hannan
The Archbishop Hannan softball program has been to Sulphur and the Fast Pitch 56 State Tournament plenty of times, including back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2012.
However, the 2015 version of the Hawks is a different story.
No. 4 seed Hannan (26-5), a team loaded with talent, but inexperienced underclassman makes it debut at 2 p.m. Friday when it takes on third-seeded Holy Savior Menard (20-6).
“Our team is very excited,” coach Becky Lambert said. “We have had a good week of practice. They are excited and ready to go. They are not overly pumped; they are just ready to play the game.”
Taking on a Holy Savior Menard team which is on an 11-game winning streak, Hannan will rely on the 1-2 pitching punch of junior Jensen Volz and freshman Allie Hutton.
Coming off of a thrilling win over Kinder in the second round, Lambert said she is most proud of her team’s new-found emotions, particularly Hutton’s.
“I think they are starting to get it now,” she said. “They are feeling it and it shows with their emotions on the field. Our coaching staff preaches to our team about how this is a fun game and when you do something well you should be excited and shows it. I’m hoping it carries on into the weekend.”
Will Guillory, Lori Lyons and David Folse contributed to this report.