PLAQUEMINE — The deciding factor in Thursday night’s duel between Ascension Catholic and St. John-Plaquemine — a game between top-10 teams battling for the District 9-1A softball championship — wasn’t who made the most plays, but rather which team made the fewest mistakes.
And in the end, an errant throw on a putout to first base allowed St. John (19-9) to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning and come away with a 3-2 victory as well as the district title from defending champions Ascension Catholic (19-5).
“Winning a district championship is what you start off with,” St. John coach Oliver Crockett said. “When you set your goals, that’s one of the first goals you set. Doing it at home against them is even bigger, because it is such a big rivalry. I’m really proud of the girls.”
With the score knotted at 2-2, Eagles catcher Payton Passantino did her job, leading off the bottom of the eighth with a single before being replaced on the bases by speedster Alana Blanchard, who stole second base one pitch later.
Victoria Weaver, batting eighth, dribbled a ball toward third base that was scooped up by the Bulldogs’ Sydni Gregoire and hummed toward first base. The throw bounced just in front of the glove of Aimee Prejeant but popped past the first baseman.
Prejeant scrambled to recover the loose ball as Blanchard hustled around the bases. Blanchard rounded third and slid into home just before Prejeant’s throw made it to the plate, giving St. John the extra-inning win.
“That was an effort play, and sometimes those things happen,” Ascension Catholic coach Kirk Delatte said of the final play. “It just got away from her. Both teams made a lot of mistakes. We persevered for a good while, but then it kind of just got the best of us.”
The error was one of several for both squads. The first run of the game came off an Eagles error in the second inning, after designated player Rae’Shaun Malancon singled to center for the game’s first hit.
Malancon made it to third on a single from catcher Baily Amedee, and scored on an errant throw to first base. Ascension Catholic extended its lead in the top of the third on an RBI double from Maggie Blanchard, who scored Jeanne Zeringue from second.
St. John tied the game with a two-out rally in the third. Weaver led off the inning with a single up the middle and made it to second on an overthrown pickoff attempt at first base. After a strikeout and a flyout, the next three Eagles reached base, including back-to-back RBI singles from Shelbi Strickland and Jessie Brown.
The game stayed tied at 2 for the next 3½ innings, with both teams failing to capitalize on opportunities in the later innings.
“We ran ourselves out of a couple opportunities, then we gave them a few opportunities too, either by walks or by errors,” Delatte said. “(St. John) is a good team. I know they’re ranked ninth in the power rankings or whatever, but they’re definitely one of the best teams in the state. Hats off to them and hats off to our girls for the way they played, too.”
The win not only gives St. John the district crown, but also guarantees the Eagles a spot in the playoffs and extends their winning streak to 10 games.
“You always want to finish on a high note,” Crockett said. “We are really excited about that. I think we’re at a good place. I’m really proud of the way they fought.”