For the first time in three years, the Hahnville Lady Tigers failed to advance to the Class 5A state title game after falling to Mt. Carmel, 5-2, in the quarterfinals.
Making the loss sting more was the fact that the Lady Tigers had beaten Mt. Carmel twice in the regular season.
"When you walk off the field and youíve been soundly defeated, you tip your hat to the other team because they were better than you. When you lose to a team that youíve beaten twice, thatís a hard pill to swallow," Hahnville head coach Kenneth Vial said.
While Hahnville took a 1-0 lead on a Lauren Simar home run in the first, Mt. Carmel put together a big, three-run second inning that the Lady Tigers were never able to recover from.
"When we were warming up before the game we were a little tight. It took us a few innings to relax, but by the time we relaxed we were down and we could never catch up," Vial said. "Mt. Carmel pitched well, played good defense and got timely hits."
Vial attributed his teamís early nerves to the youth on his squad. The Lady Tigers only had two seniors and 11 of the teamís 21 players were freshmen. While those freshmen watched Hahnville advance to the state title game last season, none of them were on the field last year.
"Going into the game the environment was a concern because we were young," Vial said. "Mt. Carmel had eight seniors and most of our players had never been in that environment before. (Mt. Carmel) was older and it made a big difference."
Though Hahnville didnít end the season how they hoped, the future is extremely bright. In 2009, a freshmen-laden Hahnville squad lost in the quarterfinals to Denham Springs. The group then served as the backbone for a record-breaking Lady Tiger team that played in three championship games and won the title in 2011.
Next season, Hahnville will return nine starters that include pitcher Lauren Beadle. Beadle finished with an impressive 29-4 record and was the catalyst for her teamís success.
"Our success this season depended on Beadleís consistency. She got stronger and pitched well all year and we kind of rode her through the season," Vial said. "Next season, she will be the dominant pitcher in Class 5A."
The Lady Tigers will also return juniors Lauren Simar and Kaylyn Morales, along with freshman Maeson Martindale, in the infield. Hahnville will have plenty of experience in the outfield as well with junior Taylor Hogan, sophomore Caitlyn Robinson and freshmen Kelli Ortego and Madison Fremen. Designated hitter Bryce Button, a sophomore, has plenty of power from the plate and will likely start at catcher next season.
"We have nine kids coming back next year that played extensively," Vial said. "Now we have to figure out who is going to play where. We have a couple that can play multiple positions and we have some good freshmen coming into the program."
Though his team is young, Vial said they grew up on the bus ride home from Sulphur. There was no finger pointing and Vial said the team had an open and honest discussion about what went wrong against Mt. Carmel.
"Our bus ride home was awesome because we had a long talk about what we did and didnít do," Vial said. "They evaluated themselves, evaluated the results and they know why it happened. They vowed to fix it and said this wonít happen to them again next year."
Sam Houston won the Class 5A title after beating Mt. Carmel 8-0 in the championship game.
|Hahnville senior Megan Bush walks back to the dugout after Mt. Carmel recorded the final out in their 5-2 win over the Lady Tigers.|