SULPHUR — What were the odds of fifth-seeded Sam Houston High School winning its fourth Class 5A state softball title in five years? If you guessed 3-1, then you also know the final score.
With title-game Outstanding Player Tanner Wright leading the way at the plate and on the mound, the Broncos ousted seventh-seeded Dutchtown 3-1 as the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 State Softball tournament concluded Saturday night.
Sam Houston defeated top-seeded St. Amant 3-1 in an afternoon semifinal before beating the Griffins to close out its playoff run with back-to-back wins over District 5-5A teams.
“That’s awesome, especially with us not getting the chance to play in the state tournament last year,” Sam Houston coach Beth Domingue said when the Broncos’ feat was noted during postgame interviews.
“We didn’t square up on that many balls. I think the ones we scored on … some balls just fell in the right place.”
Wright retired 16 of the final 17 batters she faced after Dutchtown, a team making its first title-game appearance, took a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
The junior handcuffed the Griffins with pitch placement, yielding five hits and striking out just one. She also was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI for the Broncos (26-2) in the game played at Frasch Park.
“It’s great to know that our hard work paid off and we got what we wanted,” Wright said.
There was a sense of accomplishment for Dutchtown (26-9) too. The Griffins defied the odds by making it to the title game after placing third in 5-5A.
“I’m happy to be a Griffin tonight,” DHS coach Nancy Ensminger said. “Getting the lead was big. They capitalized on some of our mistakes. That was a good team we lost to.
“We have a lot of seniors and they’ve been here before. They’ve been great leaders, bringing the underclassmen to this point. They’re winners in our book even if we came up one game short.”
Dutchtown took the lead in the top of the second when Royelle Cobb laced a one-out triple that tailed away from outfielders and into the right-field corner. She scored on a single by Blayne Pence.
The Griffins got runners to second and third via an error. But Wright got a pop up to end the inning without any additional damage.
That missed opportunity would loom large as the game progressed. Wright retired 12 in a row before the Griffins’ Bria White singled with two outs in the sixth. Dutchtown’s Ali McCoy allowed seven hits and struck out two for Dutchtown.
Sam Houston tied it in the fourth. Wright singled and her courtesy runner Breanna Doucet swiped second before scoring on a play in which the ball glanced off the glove of Pence, the DHS center fielder.
The Broncos came back for more in the fifth. SHHS claimed the lead. Marcella Myers reached on an error, was sacrificed to second and scored on a single to right-center by Tayler Struther.
Konner Richard singled to advance Struther to third. An infield hit by Wright brought Struther in to score the final run.
While Dutchtown just missed making some catches in several instances, Sam Houston got a huge lift from its defense. Madigan Elridge snagged a drive off the bat of McCoy that appeared destined for the right-field corner when it left the bat.
“I think this was a good lesson for them,” Ensminger said. “Now they know what it feels like to play (here) at 7 o’clock on a Saturday night. Hopefully, they want to reach that again.”