Lozano’s 2-hitter helps spur Destrehan into the second round

Jolie Lozano

With playoff expectations and pressure upon a young Destrehan squad, Jolie Lozano and her Wildcats teammates were more than ready to answer Saturday afternoon.  

The No. 9 seeded Wildcats scored a 3-1 opening round victory over visiting 24th seed Denham Springs, keyed by Lozano’s two-hitter and some clutch late game at-bats.  

Destrehan advances to round two of the Division I non-select playoffs and will travel to face No. 8 Live Oak. That game is set for tonight (April 16) at 6 p.m. 

Lozano allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out three. She earned the win in a complete game effort. At the plate, she likewise had a big day, going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.  

Rylie Staton was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Destrehan. Ava Burkett was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a double that slammed off the centerfield wall.  

Destrehan moved to 25-7 with the victory.  

If Destrehan and Hahnville can each pull off second round road upsets today – Destrehan of the 8 seed, Hahnville of top-seeded Dutchtown on the road – the two rivals would meet in an all St. Charles Parish state quarterfinal matchup.  

Destrehan head coach Craig Perrier said his team’s veteran leaders have been critical to the team’s success all year long, and a very teachable and coachable group of freshmen have followed their lead. That, Perrier said, helped pave the road to Saturday’s victory.  

“They push the freshmen to raise their game up. Our freshmen have some talent and they take good, constructive criticism from the older ones … everyone on this team is buying in,” Perrier said.  

One of those talented freshmen, Lozano, seemed unaffected by the playoff pressure.  

“She’s so mentally tough,” Perrier said. “She goes out there and she wants the ball, she wants to win and she’s gonna challenge hitters. She knows they’re gonna hit her, but she challenges them, says ‘here’s my best stuff, go hit it – I trust my defense,’ and pitches to contact.” 

Lozano said she kept her composure by focusing all of her mental energy on her next pitch, adhering to a motto of ‘one pitch at a time.’  

“It was very close … you have to stay laser-focused the entire time,’ said Lozano. “You take it step by step, inning by inning.” 

With the score tied at a run each, the key inning for Destrehan proved to be the fifth, where a leadoff double from Burkett off the wall ignited a two-run frame. 

Gracie Bourgeois laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Burkett to third. 

Then Makayla Thomas followed suit, taking one swing before Perrier called for a squeeze bunt that worked to perfection, putting DHS ahead 2-1 – Burkett scored and Thomas reached first after Denham could not make the play at home.

“Thomas is a quiet leader on this team,” Perrier said of the senior. “She’s been doing it since her freshman year and she’s been in big games before so she understands … she’s been swinging a hot bath so I gave her a swing at it. She fouled it off. We’ve got to take the lead there – she laid down a perfect bunt and we got it.”

Thomas went on to steal second, setting up Staton to drive her in – which she did on a single to right field, making it 3-1.  

Denham didn’t go away easily, threatening to spoil things for Destrehan in the top of the seventh. Emma Catalano drew a walk to lead things off. Lozano got a pair of ground outs before an error left two on for Kinsley Thevenot. Lozano earned the strikeout to end the game and Destrehan was moving on.  

Lozano drove in Destrehan’s first run in the bottom of the second inning, scoring Emma Headings who was hit by a pitch to lead things off.  

Denham tied it up in the top of the fourth, thanks to some aggressive baserunning –Makinley Harris stole second after leading off with a single, then she scored on Allie Vicknair’s sacrifice bunt, charging around third without hesitation to reach home.  

Lozano said the win felt great personally but that she was even more excited seeing how joyful all of her teammates were after the victory.

“It’s just so cool that this group of girls is moving forward (to round two),” she said. “This team has such good chemistry. We’re all friends and we all truly root for one another and push each other to get better.”





About Ryan Arena 2979 Articles
Sports Editor