While Hahnville has spent much of its season playing on the road, the Tigers’ 17-5-1 record through 23 games indicates the Tigers’ brand of softball travels well. With just six total home games entering the week, three of those in March, Hahnville now has a chance to build upon what is already a strong resume with their final eight non-tournament home games at home.
“Every point of season presents different challenges, and ours of late has been that we’ve been on road quite a bit,” Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent said. “I think we weathered it well. We’re 17-5 and ranked in top seven or eight in the state. Our challenge next month, you always want to be trending upward going into playoffs. We want to be playing our best ball over the last 10 games, heading into the playoffs.”
Hahnville will face a pair of stern tests this weekend when it battles with Dominican and Riverside Academy at the annual Riverside softball tournament. Hahnville faces De La Salle Friday at 5:30 p.m., Dominican at 1 p.m. Saturday and will square off with host Riverside later that day.
“I’m very familiar with Dominican after coaching at Mount Carmel all those years,” said Nugent. “De La Salle and Riverside are each going to challenge us. We want to keep our momentum going.”
Last weekend also brought tournament fare for the Tigers, who competed in the North-South Invitational tournament in Zachary.
Hahnville scored three sixth inning runs to seize control in an eventual 6-3 victory over West Ouachita at the North-South Invitational Friday.
Bayleigh Baudouin went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Kamryn Keller was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Jourdyn Hogan drove in two runs.
Karly Taranto earned the win on the mound, going the complete game and allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk. She struck out five batters.
“It was an incredibly good game,” Nugent said. “We had kinda jumped on them, then they got their bearings and kinda fought their way back. It was one of those hard fought games throughout.”
Nugent said the sixth inning push was a true team effort.
“It was an unselfish inning,” he said. “It wasn’t a big home run or a double or something that got runs for us, it was timely hitting, sacrifice bunting and some situational hitting … people giving themselves up unselfishly to get runs in. That’s team ball and that’s how you win championships.”
The Tigers fell behind early against defending Class 5A champion Alexandria later that day, which took an eventual 8-0 victory on Friday. Alexandria led 3-0 before a four-run sixth inning broke the game open.
Alexandria’s Taryn Antoine went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI to lead her team offensively.
Taranto took the loss for Hahnville. She went six innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and three walks.
“In my opinion, Alexandria is hands down the best team not only in Class 5A, but in Louisiana,” Nugent said. “They’ve got the whole team back from a team that won the 5A championship, a bunch of those kids signed with LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette. They’re beatable, but you have to play a flawless game.”
Nugent said that game came down to not taking advantage of some early chances.
“We failed to execute and get some runs across in a few spots, and didn’t really solidify our offense,” Nugent said. “We played well, but not well enough to hang with a team like that. In the end, the score can become lopsided if you don’t take advantage of your opportunities.”
Hahnville nearly struck back the next day against another top-tier foe, Ruston, which is ranked third in Class 5A. Hahnville led 2-0 before the game was rained out.
“That it was rained out was disappointing. We were playing extremely well,” Nugent said. “Karly Taranto had great command, we were getting good looks and hitting the ball hard. I think our kids were really motivated by the Alexandria loss. They didn’t second guess themselves one bit and came out firing on all cylinders. So even though we didn’t get the complete game, they showed they’re fighters.”