Lady Tigers overcome early jitters for 12-3 win over Natchitoches

After a half inning Tuesday afternoon, the No. 3-seeded Lady Tigers were down 1-0 in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs against Natchitoches Central. Head coach Kenneth Vial knew this was a possibility for his team, who missed the playoffs last year and start five freshmen in 2009, but his fears were quickly put to rest.

Hahnville answered with two runs in the bottom of the first and cruised to a 12-3 home playoff win. The Lady Tigers will travel to Chalmette today for second round play.

“I think the environment got to them a little bit. We weren’t here last year, and we have five freshmen in the starting line-up,” Vial said. “We got into a situation where we were out of sorts for a second, but we regrouped.”

In the first, freshman Amye Barre’s single drove in freshman Courtney Dutreix for Hahnville’s first run. Senior Mindy Gaubert’s sacrifice fly to right drove in the Lady Tiger’s second run to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.

The lead was short lived as Lady Chief A’lssa Fowler blasted a home run to lead off the second inning and tie the score at 2-2, but the Lady Tigers (27-5-2) would answer in the third.

Sophomore Elise Debruler and Barre reached base safely to lead off the inning. Sophomore Taylor Webre’s sacrifice fly gave Hahnville the lead for good. Senior Jia Bridges, who returned to the line-up for the first time in second weeks, drove in courtesy runner Kori Madere with an RBI double to give Hahnville a 4-2 lead after three innings.

The Lady Tigers would put the game away in the fourth inning when they scored six runs and sent nine batters to the plate.

“It was fun. The kids had fun, but I can to tell you that (Natchitoches Central) is not a bad softball team,” Vial said.

Freshman Hope Mair, senior Jessica Cancienne, Dutreix and Debruler all reached base safely to begin the inning. After Barre lined into a hard-luck double play to the shortstop, the Lady Tigers caught a break. With two outs, rightfielder Melancy Dupree misplayed a fly ball to extend the inning.

Hahnville took advantage as Gaubert belted a two-run double off Dupree’s glove in right center followed by a two-run Ruthian home run to left center field by Bridges.

“It felt good to get back into the game and to see that I still have some power,” she said about her fourth home run of the season. “I was kind of upset because she threw one down the middle and I let it go, but she threw one down the plate again.”

The Lady Tigers tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to secure the 12-3 victory.

Junior Lauren Candies was the winning pitcher as she gave up 11 hits and three runs while striking out six.

“They hit the ball and made us make some tough plays. Candies struggled a little at the beginning, but she regrouped at the end and finished strong,” Vial said.

“What was important to us was to come out and answer the bell. When they came out and scored, we answered them. We erased any doubt that we may have had about coming out and competing and winning in the playoffs.”

“We were kind of tense because it has been a long time since we have been to Sulphur,” Bridges said. “Even though we had a slow start, we picked it up. Now, we can’t relax. We’ve been pushing throughout district play, and we’ll just keep on fighting.”


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