After a week filled with scuttled practices and rained-out games, the softball teams from St. Scholastica and Lakeshore finally squeezed in a game Wednesday afternoon to decide the District 8-4A championship.
The Titans scratched out 12 hits and took advantage of seven St. Scholastica errors to earn a 12-9 victory at Lakeshore near Mandeville. The win earned the Titans a part of the District 8-4A title, which they will share with the Doves (previously unbeaten in district play.)
Wednesday was the final day teams could finish regular-season games, which forced the schools to jam a meeting between the squalls that have pelted the area for days.
The playoff brackets are scheduled to be released Thursday.
Lakeshore (15-5, 7-1) is among the state’s top Class 4A teams, according to the LHSAA power rankings. SSA (16-6, 7-1) was unofficially ranked 22nd heading into the game against Lakeshore.
The Doves jumped to an early lead when Ashley Elsensah and Lindsey Berns singled to lead off the game. Sam Zelden drove in Berns on a single with one out in the inning. Holly Huhn, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on an error to make it 2-0.
Lakeshore answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-RBI single by Kaitlyn Dalfares that scored Paige Hulin and Emma Autin. Dalfares scored on an error that put Lakeshore ahead 3-2. St. Scholastica got the run back in the top of the second when Elsensah tripled to left and scored on a single by Berns.
Lightning was spotted only seconds later and the game was delayed by 52 minutes. It restarted with the score tied at 3.
The Doves regained the lead in the third when Jordan Bass reached on an infield single and eventually reached third. She scored on a groundout by Bri Wale to make the score 4-3. With two outs, Cecilia Hunter walked and scored on a single by Savannah Frieman and a throwing error. SSA added a run in the fourth to make the score 6-4.
Lakeshore went back ahead in the fourth with four runs on four hits and a trio of errors. The Titans took an 8-6 lead into the fifth, and they increased it by a run in the bottom of the inning when Hulin, who went 3-for-3 with four stolen bases, laced an RBI double to make it 9-6. SSA got a run back in the sixth, but an inning-ending double play killed a potential rally.
The Titans piled on three more runs in the sixth to go up 12-7. SSA answered with two runs in the top of the seventh, but a groundout ended the game.
Hulin, Lakeshore’s sophomore center fielder, said being able to complete the game — after six days of not practicing or playing — was vital.
“This was a really important game for us,” she said. “We had lost to them once already, and we were going for (the) co-district (title.) Plus, to stay in the top four or five teams in the state, that was big.”
Titans sophomore catcher Katie Gunther said her team has bigger ideas in mind heading into the playoffs. They’re assured to host at least the first of their Class 4A playoff games.
“Our main goal is to go to Sulphur and not only go there, but do our best to win there,” Gunther said.
“I think we have a good chance to do it.”
St. Scholastica, which has won numerous district championships under coach Charles Richard, had 17 hits against Lakeshore. But miscues were the Doves’ undoing.
“That, plus two base running errors — you’re not going to beat anyone doing that,” Richard said. “They’ll want to make excuses and say it’s because of the rain and the lack of practice but (Lakeshore had to play under the same conditions.) We just have to play better.”
Softball playoff pairings
Several other local teams are expected to have high seeds on Thursday when the LHSAA announces the playoff pairings.
Mount Carmel is currently the No. 2 seed in Class 5A according to the latest unofficial power rankings released by the LHSAA.
John Curtis, which has won three consecutive state titles, is the top seed in 3A.
In 2A, three local teams are among the top seeded teams.
Riverside is the No. 1 seed in 2A and Hannan is the 4 seed and Pope John Paul II is the No. 7 seed.