PLAQUEMINE — With the bases loaded and two away in the bottom of the seventh inning, Grant High starting pitcher Allie Delrie still stood on the mound, one pitch away from sending the No. 18 Cougars into the second round of the Class 4A softball playoffs.
Delrie had already walked three Plaquemine batters in the inning, and the nerves were setting in. With a 1-2 count against Lady Devils catcher Hope Spencer, Delire glanced over to the dugout and received a reassuring message from her coaching staff.
“My coach looked at me and just said ‘It’s fun. It’s a game; it’s fun,’ ” Delire said.
The senior responded with a smile before forcing Spencer to pop out to third base on the next pitch, securing the first-round upset of No. 15 Plaquemine with a 3-0 win on the road.
“I didn’t have the best game out there, but my team had a great defense,” Delrie said after the game. “I walked a lot of people, but they were there to back me up. Even when they did hit, we got the outs. We pretty much worked as a team.”
Delrie walked six batters in the contest and had to work her way out of several jams throughout the afternoon, including the threat in the final inning.
Plaquemine (16-10), which started three eighth-graders and three sophomores this season, managed to put runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings but struggled to push any runs across, leaving 13 runners on base.
“Right there at the end in the last inning, we did what we needed to do — we got the bases loaded — we just didn’t get the hits at the right time,” Plaquemine coach Mary Gaye David said. “That pretty much is the story of the day. We didn’t get the timely hit, and when we did get the hit, it was right to someone. We were just a hit or two shy, and the ball game could have gone either way.”
Grant (20-10) didn’t seem to be fazed by its nearly three-hour-long road trip to Plaquemine, chalking up three hits from the first four batters and scoring an early run on an RBI single from Kendi Malcomb.
The Cougars added to their lead in the second inning, as Karlee Gates doubled to lead off the frame. She scored two batters later on another RBI single, this time from right fielder Blair Allman.
“I thought our kids did a good job early in the ball game hitting,” Grant coach Brad Woodard said. “Any time you’re on the road and you’re in a bus for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, it’s always good to score right off the bat.”
Grant added an insurance run in the top of the seventh thanks to a leadoff triple to right from Malcomb, who was 3-for-4. Morgan Wampler drove Malcomb in two batters later with a single up the middle.
Grant now faces a familiar foe in the regional round against District 3-4A rival and No. 2-seeded Alexandria, which beat No. 31 Riverdale 15-0 in three innings Monday.
Grant lost both meetings against Alexandria in the regular season, dropping two tight contests 3-2 and 5-2 respectively. And Woodard knows that revenge is at the forefront of his team’s mind.
“They want Alexandria,” Woodard said. “We’ve talked about having an opportunity to meet those guys again.
“Our kids are real familiar with them, and they are real familiar with us. They are looking forward to it.”