Thursday couldn’t get here soon enough for Karli Perque.
Cabrini’s senior pitcher eagerly anticipated boarding the bus with her teammates and returning to Sulphur for the LHSAA Fastpitch 56 softball tournament.
The Crescents made the trip last season, winning their quarterfinal game before losing to eventual state champion North DeSoto 1-0 in the semifinals.
Now they are looking to go a step further and haul the state championship trophy back to Moss Street.
“It’s really exciting to be going back,” Perque said. “It’s my senior year and I want to go out with a ring. We are just all working hard to get it.”
Cabrini (25-6), the No. 3 seed, will play No. 6 seed Bastrop (21-12) at 6 p.m. Friday in a Class 4A quarterfinal game.
The winner advances to Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal game to play the winner between No. 2 West Ouachita and No. 26 Teurlings Catholic. The winner of that will play in the championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Cabrini enters as one of the hottest teams in the field, having won 19 of its last 20 games. The Crescents been even more impressive in the first two rounds of the playoffs, outscoring Minden and Grant by a combined score of 25-0.
“Our bats have really come alive the last couple weeks of the season,” said coach Shannon Austin, in her 10th season at her alma mater. “Hopefully, this team peaks at the right time and we can continue that into the state tournament.”
Perque, a Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College signee, has 302 strikeouts in 173 innings this season.
“Karli is obviously throwing very well like she has been doing the entire season,” Austin said. “Even on days when she struggles or is a little off, our defense has been there to back her up.”
Perque (24-6) is one of four seniors along with catcher Jessica Breitenbach, first baseman Hailey Sculthorp and left fielder Kaylin Hillburn.
“Last year we worked so hard to get there,” Breitenbach said. “We got knocked out right before the championship game and it made us just want to come back even stronger than last year.”
The four seniors are joined in the starting lineup by junior third baseman Christie Runnels, a Memphis commitment, center fielder Katelyn Puinno, shortstop Danielle Williams, second baseman Shelby Brooks, designated player Megan Clement and right fielder Brittany Juneau.
“I like this group’s composure,” Austin said. “They don’t get rattled easily. They are all about taking one day at a time, one game at a time, one inning at a time. They don’t worry about rankings or stats. They just want to show up and play the game and leave with a win. That’s it.”
Last season was one of the best in school history. Before that, the team advanced to the semifinals in 2011 when it fell to Teurlings Catholic.
This season, they are hoping to go a step further.
“Last year we worked so hard to get there,” Breitenbach said. “We got knocked out right before the championship game and felt (it) like a low blow. It made us just want to come back even stronger than last year. Now we are hoping to go all the way.”