Haughton coach Leanne Shanks understood the problem her team faced in Friday’s Class 5A regional playoff loss to Mount Carmel.
Haughton had to solve MCA pitcher Amanda Cannella during her “best game” of the season Friday at the JPRD softball complex.
“We just didn’t hit the ball,” Shanks said after Mount Carmel’s 6-0 victory.
Haughton manage one hit, a game-starting single by Anna Dies that barely avoided the glove of leaping Mount Carmel third baseman Samantha Dares. After that Cannella retired the final 21 Bucs batters.
That represented only a hint of Cannella’s dominance. After a 20-pitch first inning in which Dies was stranded at third, sophomore Cannella retired 21 straight while throwing 58 or her final 66 pitches for strikes, or 88 percent strikes over the final six innings.
“Mandy was phenomenal,” said Mount Carmel coach Jake Pierron, whose team now moves on to Sulphur to play a 6 p.m. quarterfinal Friday in the state softball tournament against Denham Springs, a 16-6 winner over Northshore. Fourth-seeded Mount Carmel (21-8) was the 5A runner-up last year.
Haughton had hit a school-record 34 home runs, and Dies had a school-record 13 of those. In Tuesday’s 7-0 bidistrict victory over St. Joseph’s, the Bucs hit five home runs. By comparison, MCA’s potent offense has hit 14 homers.
“We had been hammering the ball the past two, three weeks,” Shanks said. “We just didn’t hit today.”
When told of her 58 strikes on 66 pitches over six innings, Cannella said, “Wow. Amazing. That has to be my best game this season.”
Catcher Olivia Bubrig said Cannella “had all five of her pitches working” and because of that “we were able to keep them off balance. She was pretty amazing out there.”
Cannella struck out six, but retired nine batters on fly balls. Seven of those were routine pop ups. The other two resulted in nice running catches by outfielders Emily Lousteau and Savanna Orgeron.
Canella said: “It all works together. My offense got us a 3-0 lead in the first and, with our defense, I know I can throw strikes.”
The Cubs jumped on top in the first. Leadoff hitter Alexa Songy walked, and Alaina Guarino drove a fastball from the hard-throwing Dies over the right fielder’s head. Dares walked, and Caleigh Foto singled to score Guarino. Dares score on the first of Madison Ciaccio’s two doubles.
Mount Carmel defeated Haughton (18-11) earlier this season. Cannella won that game, 4-3, and now has pitched 14 innings against the Bucs without allowing one of their 34 home runs.
“I knew they could hit,” Canella said. “I had no idea they had that many home runs. I just settled into a groove after the first inning and . . . our offense kept scoring.”
The Cubs went to a small ball attack in the fourth to score twice. Macy Hornosky bunted the first pitch for a single. Orgeron also bunted on the first pitch and reached on an error. Songy bunted the first pitch for a sacrifice, placing runners on second and third. Guarino’s sacrifice fly scored Hornosky and Foto’s single scored Orgeron.
Ciaccio led off the fifth with her second double and she eventually scored on Hornosky’s bunt single.
“We just adjust at the plate to whatever (we’re facing), “ said Guarino. “It feels so good to be able to get back to (the) state tournament.”