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Winning formula leads Lutcher back to state quarterfinals

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 4, 1998

LUTCHER – The Lutcher Lady Bulldogs have a formula that has proven successful throughout the 1998 season.

Offensively, hit the ball hard the first couple of innings and break the game open in the third. Defensively, keep errors to a minimum and keep runners off the bases.The Lady Bulldogs followed that formula again Tuesday in their regional playoff game against Notre Dame, defeating the Pioneers, 3-0, to advance to the state quarterfinals.

Lutcher will be making its fourth trip to Alexandria in John Bentivegna’s five years as coach. The Lady Bulldogs, 22-3 on the season, will play Brusly at 3 p.m. at the Alexandria Youth Softball Complex. Brusly defeated the Lady Bulldogs in the state quartTuesday’s game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Lutcher’s Erin Hymel and Notre Dame’s Julie Turner. Turner retired the first six Lady Bulldogs she faced, while Hymel was retiring the first seven Pioneers to step up to the plate.Notre Dame right fielder Rachel Girouard became the first baserunner to reach base in the contest with one out in the third as she beat out second baseman Mitzi Hebert’s throw after her grounder deflected off first baseman Candice Millet’s glove.

Girouard moved into scoring position by stealing second, but Hymel got out of the inning by striking out Allison Boulet and getting Gretchen Schmaltz to pop up to short.

Katie Cashio led off the bottom of the inning by lining a single to center. Kim St. Pierre then laid down a bunt in front of the plate for a single, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. Christy Melancon followed with a pop up near first base that was dropped by Boulet. Boulet fired across the diamond to force Cashio with third baseman Lacy Godeaux throwing down to second to get St. Pierre to complete the double play.Jenee Weber picked up the Lady Bulldogs, however, lining a triple past Schmaltz in center field that brought in Melancon with the first run of the game. Hebert followed with a grounder that went past shortstop Amanda Valdetero, scoring Weber to give the LHymel retired the next five batters, including a diving catch by catcher April Benn of Leah Smith’s pop up near the backstop.

Notre Dame threatened in the top of the fifth as Turner doubled into the left field cor- (See LUTCHER, Page 2C) ner with two outs. But Hymel got Girouard to strike out with Benn holding on to her foul tip for strike three.Lutcher added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning as St. Pierre lined a lead-off double into the left field corner. St. Pierre went to third on Melancon’s liner back to the mound and scored on Weber’s sacrifice fly to left.Hymel retired the final six batters, getting Godeaux to ground out to Cashio at third to end the game.

Hymel went the distance, giving up one hit while striking out eight in improving to 19-2 on the season. Turner fell to 9-7 despite giving up just five hits.Bentivegna said he expected such a battle from the Pioneers, which completed their season as the District 6-3A champions with a 18-9 record.

“Their pitcher wasn’t bad,” Bentivegna said. “We adjusted and started hitting the ball in the third inning. I told them to do what we have been doing in the past, defensive wise and pitching wise.”

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