Hahnville rolls through opening round

Courtney Ortego
Courtney Ortego and Hahnville are ready for a matchup with East Ascension today.

Second-seeded Tigers a win away from return to Sulphur

A familiar foe stands between No. 2 seeded Hahnville and a trip to Sulphur.

The Lady Tigers (30-3, 12-0) will take the field today to host No. 18 seed East Ascension in a second round Class 5A playoff game, with the winner advancing to the state softball tournament at Frasch Park in Sulphur. That is the venue Hahnville hopes will yield another state championship run, the last coming in 2011.

Hahnville visited East Ascension less than two weeks ago, the Tigers emerging with a 7-3 victory. Hahnville held off an East Ascension rally to win that one; Hahnville led 6-0 before EA scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Tigers allowed no more runs from there.

“They’re a very tough team and they’ll keep coming at you,” Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent said. “They’re not gonna come down here and be intimidated. That’s historically a very good program and they’ll be ready to play, so we’ll have to be ready to play as well.”

In the regular season matchup between the teams, Hahnville’s Kamryn Keller, Catherine Friloux, Bayleigh Baudouin, Sarah VanEtta and Karly Taranto each collected two hits, with Friloux driving in three runs and VanEtta and Keller two each. Friloux and Keller each hit home runs in the game. The Tigers’ Karly Taranto allowed three earned runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four.

Nugent said the experience of his team allows him to rest a bit easier given the familiarity the teams have with one another, given the Tigers’ players have shown they make adjustments quickly.

“Sometimes, with a younger team, you just want to throw them out there. With experience, it helps, because they know what they did well and what they didn’t do well,” Nugent said. “When you have players who have been through the battles, it adds up.”

East Ascension advanced after winning decisively on the road over No. 15 seeded Pineville in round one by an 18-5 score.

Hahnville made quick work of first round opponent Comeaux, capturing a 15-0 home victory in four innings. The game ended early by the 15-run rule.

Courtney Ortego made a big impact with her bat, going 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. Kamryn Keller and Hannah Borne each drove in a pair of runs, while Danielle Duplay went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Karly Taranto nailed down her second consecutive shutout, allowing two hits and walking two while striking out six. It was Hahnville’s 14th shutout of the season.

“It had been a little over a week since we’d played, and it was one of those deals where I felt once we got into a rhythm we’d be OK,” Nugent said. “Karly pitched well and we jumped on them in the bottom of the first to kind of create a momentum for ourselves that we rode through the end of the game.”

Nugent said his players played loose and focused, noting that’s ideal for the postseason.

“You want them with that look in their eye like they’re ready to take care of business,” Nugent said. “The teams that do well in the postseason are the ones who keep doing the things that got them there, one step at a time. They know you can’t win the championship in the first round, no matter how much you may want to. It’s one pitch and one swing at a time.”

He also said that while the pressure mounts in the playoffs, the teams that can best put it into perspective are the ones that make runs.

“You have to figure out early on that it’s a ballgame you need to win like you’ve done many times before throughout the year. Just because of the added emphasis doesn’t mean how the game is played changes,” Nugent said.

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