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‘A dream come true for everyone’

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 6, 1998

ALEXANDRIA – The Lutcher Lady Bulldogs showed Saturday evening dreams can indeed come true.

The Lady Bulldogs used their best hitting performance of the play-offs against Catholic of New Iberia in the Class 3A state championship game at the Alexandria Youth Softball Complex, banging out 14 hits on their way to a 15-4 victory over the Lady Panthers for the school’s first ever state championship.

“I have been waiting all my life for this,” Lutcher coach John Bentivegna said. “I have been in athletics all my life and been close on a number ofoccasions. This is what I have been working for all my life. This is what Idreamed of and I want to thank the players for making it happen. Theycame through and did what it took. It was a dream come true for me.”The Lady Bulldogs completed their historical season with a 24-3 record.

Two of those losses came in a tournament early in the season.

Lutcher had advanced to the state championship game behind the pitching of Erin Hymel and its defense. But in the championship game, it was theLutcher bats that came alive.

The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second against Catholic starter Lili Desormeaux. April Benn, who was 10-for-11in the tournament, led off the inning with a walk. After courtesy runnerToni Riley went to second on a wild pitch, Becky Lambert brought her in with a double into center field.

Catholic bounced back with three runs in the top of the third. Mallory Mataled off with a walk and went all the way to third on a wild pitch by Hymel with Jade Dugas at the plate. Dugas then stroked a single into left field totie the score.

After Hymel struck out Desormeaux, Rikki St. Upery singled to Center fieldand both runners moved up on an error by Jenee Weber. One out later, bothrunners scored as Brandy Neal’s throw went into the dugout on Elise Babineaux’s grounder to short.

Lutcher went ahead to stay in the bottom of the inning. Christie Melanconopened the frame with a double to left field. After Weber flew out toright, Mitzi Hebert reached on an error by shortstop Leah Viator. Melanconthen came in to score and Hebert went to third on a wild pitch by Desormeaux.

One out later, Benn brought in Hebert with a single to right to tie the game at three. Candice Millet followed with a single to right and went to secondon throw to third to get Riley running for Benn. Lambert then brought inRiley with a single to right and Millet scored on an error by Mata, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 5-3 lead.

Catholic got a run back in the top of the fourth as Laura Scurria led off with a single to center, went to second on an error by Weber, advanced to third on a sacrifice by Mata and scored on a wild pitch.

But the Bulldogs broke the game open in the bottom half of the inning. KimSt. Pierre led off with single to left and went to second on an error byDugas. After Melancon popped up, Weber delivered a triple into the right-center field gap to score St. Pierre. Hebert beat out a bunt and Nealfollowed by ripping a single into right to score Weber, increasing the Lady Bulldogs’ advantage to 7-4.

Hebert came in to score as Benn grounded out to second. Millet kept therally going by drawing a walk and stealing second. Lambert then deliveredher third hit of the game, singling to left to plate Neal and give the Lady Bulldogs a 9-4 cushion.

Lutcher pushed across four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. St. Pierresingled to right and went to second on Melancon’s ground out to third.

Weber then drilled her second triple of the game to center field to score St. Pierre. Weber scored as Hebert reached on an error by third basemanElise Babineaux.

Neal followed by reaching on an error by second baseman Brandy Hunter.

Hebert came in to score on a wild pitch and after a single by Benn, Neal crossed the pate on a passed ball by St. Upery to give the Lady Bulldogs a13-4 lead.

Bentivegna gave his reserves a chance to bat in the bottom of the sixth and Cindy Guidry delivered by drawing a walk and going to second on a wild pitch. St. Pierre then laced her third hit of the game down the left fieldline for a double before Weber brought in Guidry with a ground out. St.Pierre concluded the scoring by coming in on a wild pitch.

Hymel cruised through the later innings, retiring 11 of the final 13 batters she faced. Desormeaux led off the top of the fifth with a singlebut Benn caught courtesy runner Erin Legg trying to steal to end the inning.

Hymel concluded her season at 22-2 by allowing six hits while striking out eight.

St. Pierre, one of the team’s four seniors, said it all came down toteamwork.

“We all played together,” St. Pierre said. “We are best friendseverywhere.”Neal, another senior, said the victory was what the team had been working for the whole season.

“It is awesome,” Neal said. “It’s a dream come true for everyone on thisteam.”

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