Yeah baby … what a way to finish.
I have to confess this wasn’t the first thought that came to mind as I exited Sulphur’s Frasch Park at 1:45 a.m. Sunday. But it was a close second after the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 state softball tournament ended following a 12-hour marathon day.
The fact that games were played at all is a credit to the Sulphur organizers and Sulphur Parks and Recreation staff after the heavy rains that came early Saturday. As we now are well aware, a number of baseball teams were unable to complete or play games Saturday.
I’ll get to that soon enough. But first, let’s talk softball.
The Baton Rouge area sent 12 teams to Sulphur, including four in Class 5A. Catholic-Pointe Coupee was the only team that brought home a state title, its second in four years.
When the Hornets arrived in Sulphur on Friday, coach Lauren Castle Doucet attracted more attention than her players. And it wasn’t because she’s a former LSU player.
Doucet is almost eight months pregnant with her second child and coached third base for all three games. Concerns about when Doucet might deliver probably trumped concerns about whether eighth-seeded CHSPC (17-11) could. Make no mistake about it, the Hornets delivered.
Title-game MVP Ryann Bizette said things fell into place even before an 8-3 title-game win over No. 6 St. Mary-Natchitoches. The Hornets were a young team with seven new starters, similar to 2013 when the school won its first state title.
The clincher came a little before 8 p.m. Saturday when Catholic-PC realized its game would be on the same field they won the 2013 title on. After the win, Doucet ran to the fence and grabbed her young daughter so she could hold her briefly before the awards ceremony. It was a special moment.
There were plenty of others. Zachary High became the third straight local team to finish as the 5A runner-up, joining Dutchtown High (2015) and Denham Springs (2014). There was no title in Louisiana’s top class for BR, but what Central, Live Oak and the Broncos did brought plenty of PR for District 4-5A.
Zachary’s 5-4 quarterfinal win over the other area 5A team, St. Amant, was one of those games you hated to see either team lose. There was total effort, emotion and intensity.
A 7-0 loss to Alexandria Senior High in the title game was not what Zachary dreamed about. But consider these two facts: The Broncos played for a state title for the first time in 22 years, led by a senior class that finished 11 games below .500 as freshmen. Not too shabby.
Lutcher, a No. 15 seed, took its Cinderella story all the way to the 3A title game before losing to Kaplan 4-0. The Bulldogs, like Catholic-PC, saved their best for last.
That 3A title-game match-up left two other proud programs, Brusly and Parkview Baptist, on the losing end of semifinal games. The same was true for Ascension Catholic, which lost to CHSPC in the 1A semifinals.
Titles are precious and sometimes rare. It’s the Fast Pitch 56 experience that is priceless.
And they’re out
Yes, the LHSAA opted to enforce a baseball playoff policy that put teams out of the playoffs based on a weather-based technicality on Sunday. Instead of a best-of-three series, these teams were only able to play one.
At this point, I’m not sure who I’m more disappointed in, some of the schools or the LHSAA. I know rules are rules. We’ve all been punished for not following rules at some point in our lives.
But in this case, weather conditions were beyond the control of the teams. Since the next round won’t start until Friday, why not grant an extension?
Coaches and principals not agreeing on things and wanting only what is best for their school is what has us in this whole select/nonselect LHSAA mess we’re in now.
Before next year, this rule needs to be amended to require schools to move to a neutral site on the final day the games can be played. A neutral site must be agreed on before the series.
And if that doesn’t work, maybe we can put everybody in timeout. Enough already.