Hahnville clinched at least a share of the District 7-5A championship Tuesday, but archrival Destrehan made nothing easy for them.
The Wildcats threatened to tie or take the lead with two on in the top of the seventh inning, but pitcher Hailey Beard and the Hahnville defense got back to back groundouts to preserve a 2-1 victory at home and remain unbeaten in district play.
The 2-1 final mirrored the score of the previous game between the teams, a non-district contest also won by the Tigers.
With just one district game left for each team, Tuesday’s clash of district unbeatens all but served as an official district championship game.
“That was a hard fought game on both ends,” said Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent. “Those can go either way. It comes down to staying focused. They made a push late … you make one little blunder, and a lot of teams fall apart. We were able to pitch and play our way out of it and show composure. I think it shows how we’re maturing as a team.”
The Tigers jumped out ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Makenna Cortez singled and drove in Montana Smith, who reached on an error to start the inning then stole second base, kickstarting the day for their team.
“Tyler (Oubre)’s a great pitcher who hits her spots really, really well … she pitched a really good game,” said Cortez. “So to get that hit against her felt good, because it kind of set the tone for the rest of the game for us, that energy and vibe that as long as we stay focused, we’re going to win and put runs on the board.”
Hahnville (16-8, 4-0) extended the lead in the third after Montana Smith, Sara Roussel and Baudouin each reached to load the bases with no outs. Cortez collected her second RBI of the game when she drew a walk to force in a run.
“We made a few mistakes early,” said Destrehan coach Kenneth Montz. “We had an error and a walk lead to a run … we miss a cutoff and load the bases and they get a run. When you’re playing a good team like they are, in a rivalry game like this, those mistakes come back to bite you. It was uncharacteristic of us lately.”
Destrehan (13-15, 3-1) cut Hahnville’s lead in half after Moriah Ocmond, Alyssa Vicknair and Gia Zeringue each singled, the third plating Ocmond to make it 2-1 in the sixth inning.
In the seventh, Oubre walked and Emma Rome lined a hit to right field to set Destrehan up with two on and one out, before Hahnville retired the side for the win.
Oubre took the loss, going six innings and allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks. She struck out six.
Beard earned the win for Hahnville, splitting time on the mound with Mackenzie Kliebert to allow one run on seven hits.
“We approached it like it was a regular game, not so much pressure,” Beard said. “One pitch, one hit at a time. If someone messes up, the next person has their back and makes the play … my team had my back when they started getting hits on me. (Kliebert) came in and had my back, then I had her back.”
Though the Tigers’ approach was to not pile too much pressure upon themselves for this one, Cortez said when Hahnville and Destrehan match up, the energy is undeniable, regardless of sport.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the seasons whether it’s football, basketball, baseball or softball. So just to get the win, it’s amazing,” Cortez said.
She added that the Lady Tigers have been out to prove they remain a big factor in the Class 5A championship picture, after finishing as runner-up a season ago.
“(The win) just continues to show people we’re in it to win it,” Cortez said. “We’re not selling ourselves short. I think a lot of people have doubted us this year because we lost a lot of seniors. We’re showing even though we’re a young team, we’re still stepping up.”
Nugent noted for his team’s seniors, it was their 100th win with the program.
But the veteran coach also took a moment after the game to speak to and offer some words of praise to Destrehan’s senior players who have battled in a series of hard fought games over the past few seasons.
”They have a really good young group of players coming up over there, and I’m looking forward to four solid years of this,” Nugent said. “But I wanted to just tip my cap to those (seniors) and for them to know they laid the foundation for what’s obviously a great rivalry now.”