Seeking the crown: After climbing the national ranks, Lady Tigers intend to take state championship home

Marissa Allemand
Marissa Allemand corrals a catch in left field in Thursday’s playoff win. (Photo by Ellis Alexander)

Will face Northshore at 5 p.m. Friday

Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent did not hesitate when asked what it meant to bring his second-seeded Tigers back to Sulphur.

“We have unfinished business,” Nugent said.

The  No. 2 Tigers had just put the finishing touches on a 9-1 victory over East Ascension in a second round Class 5A playoff game, officially ticketing Hahnville for a spot in this week’s state softball tournament in Sulphur. Hahnville will face No. 7 Northshore at 5 p.m. on Friday. If Hahnville wins, it will advance to the season’s final day, where the finals and semifinals will be played on Saturday.

Nugent took the opportunity to see Northshore play in its second round win and he sees a team without notable weaknesses.

“They have an exceptional pitcher with a very good defense behind her,” Nugent said. “You can see a lot of times if a team is hiding a weakness, but they are solid top to bottom. That’s what you expect, too. A quarterfinalist in Class 5A, they didn’t get here by accident.”

Last season, Hahnville returned to Sulphur for the first time since 2013. The Tigers fell to 2017’s 5A top seed Alexandria, 13-3 in the state quarterfinals.

Marissa Allemand, who smashed two home runs in the win over East Ascension, said this trip will be different.

“Last year, they 10-run ruled us,” Allemand said, noting the game’s early end. “This year, we plan on being on the other side of that. I’m so excited and I just want to win.”

This team enters as one of the bracket favorites, as opposed to last year’s 8-seeded team seeing Sulphur action for the first time.

“It definitely pays dividends,” Nugent said. “I’ve never seen a 5A team bring a core group that goes up to Sulphur for the first time and win. I feel like they know what to expect, and we’ll put our nose to grindstone and get to work.

“This is a great day. We’re gonna enjoy it, but we’re not done.”

Hahnville and East Ascension had played less than two weeks prior, Hahnville winning 7-3 at EA in that one. This time, the Tigers were sprinting from the start when Danielle Duplay led off the bottom of the first with a triple, after Karly Taranto retired the EA side in order in the top half of the inning.

Kamryn Keller’s two-RBI double and Sarah VanEtta’s RBI single pushed Hahnville ahead 3-0.

Then, in the third inning, Courtney Ortego’s bomb over the left field wall went for a two-run home run, making it a 5-0 Hahnville lead. The homer also netted Ortego the single season record at the school for home runs, it standing as her 10th of the season.

“Having seen their pitcher already, we kind of had a better feel in this game. We knew what she was throwing and we could adjust,” Ortego said. “I wasn’t expecting a home run there, but it felt great to be there for my team.”

The fifth inning saw Allemand’s first of home run, this one a drive to left field that scored two runs to make it 7-0.

Her second blast of the day came in the seventh, another two-run home run that made it 9-1.

Allemand said it was her first two home run game since she played junior varsity, and given the moment, this one was so much sweeter.

“It was a big moment for our team and it’s very exciting,” Allemand said.

Allemand finished the day by going 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Van Etta went 3-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, while Kamryn Keller was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Taranto seemingly got stronger on the mound as the day went on. She pitched six shutout innings and allowed four hits and no runs while striking out three. She faced one batter over the minimum over her final three innings of work.

“The first game we faced them, I didn’t feel like it was my best,” Taranto said. “Today was my last game on our home field, and I felt I had to make it my best.”

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