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Lutcher defeats old foe on way to state championship

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 6, 1998

ALEXANDRIA – The Lutcher Lady Bulldogs’ trip to their first ever state title included healing some old wounds.

A year ago, Brusly knocked Lutcher out of the playoffs in the state quarterfinals. But Friday afternoon in the state quarterfinals at theAlexandria Youth Softball Complex, the Lady Bulldogs got a measure of revenge with a 4-2 victory.

Lutcher starter Erin Hymel went the distance, allowing four hits while striking out eight. Brusly starter Krish Crochet allowing nine hits whilestriking out two and walking two.

Lutcher jumped out on top in the bottom of the second. With two outs, KimSt. Pierre lined a triple into the left field gap. Christie Melancon followedwith a grounder to shortstop Christy Diez, whose throw went into the dirt at first, allowing St. Pierre to score. Jenee Weber then singled to putrunners at first and second but second baseman Emily Naquin made a leaping grab of Mitzi Hebert’s liner to end the inning.

Michelle Fouquier opened the top of the third for Brusly with a walk and a steal of second before Hymel got Diez to line out to Candice Millet at first. Elise Williams then popped up a bunt that catcher April Benn caughtin the air and fired to second to double up Fouquier.

Lutcher gave itself a cushion in the bottom of the inning as Brandy Neal opened the inning with a grounder to second. Naquin bobbled the ball andthen flipped it past first, allowing Neal to advance to second. Bennfollowed with a grounder to Diez, who looked Neal back to the bag but threw late to first to get Benn. Neal went to third on the throw.After courtesy runner Toni Riley stole second, Millet grounded to Naquin who threw home with Neal staying at third to load the bases. Lambertfollowed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Neal and give the Lady Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

Lutcher tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fifth as Benn led off with a single to center. Two outs later, Katie Cashio walked and Kim St. Pierresingled to left to load the bases. Melancon then singled to left, scoringRiley running for Benn and Cashio to increase the lead to 4-0.

Brusly rallied in the top of the sixth as Becky Dupuy reached on an error by Neal to open the inning. Diez lined a shot to right but was thrown out atfirst by Lambert. Williams doubled to left to put runners at second andthird and Ashley Daigle followed with a single to center to bring in courtesy runner Emily Stelly.

Daigle was thrown out at second trying to steal with Williams breaking for the plate. Neal threw home but her throw was high, allowing Williamsto score to cut the deficit to 4-2. Crochet followed with a triple to right-center, but Hymel struck out Lindsey Gremillion to end the inning. Hymelthen retired the side in order in the seventh to preserve the victory.

“We worked at hitting quicker pitches this year,” Lutcher coach John Bentivegna said. “We wanted revenge definitely. The team knew if theybeat them, it would be a big, big game.”Lutcher 4, Mansfield 3 The Lady Bulldogs held off a late Mansfield rally Saturday afternoon in the semifinals to advance to their first ever Class 3A championship game.

The Lady Bulldogs scored first as Mitzi Hebert singled to single with one out and advanced to second on an error by Laquacious Jones. After sheadvanced to third on a wild pitch, Hebert scored as Brandy Neal hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Mansfield came back to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. KassiTyler walked and was sacrificed to second by Katie Nuzun to open the inning. Randi Walding followed with a single to short right field, bringingin Tyler with the tying run.

Lutcher retook the lead with a run in the third. With one out, Jenee Webersingled as Jones made a diving attempt but could not hold onto the ball.

Hebert followed with a single to right before being forced at second by Neal. After Neal stole second, Benn singled to center. Weber scored butNeal was thrown out at the plate on the throw in from Jones.

Lutcher made it 3-1 in the top of the fourth as Becky Lambert walked with one out and went to second on Katie cashio’s single to left. Kim St. Pierreflied to let with Lambert advancing to third as Nuzun let the throw to double up Lambert get by her. Christie Melancon followed with a double tothe left field wall, scoring lambert. Cashio tried to score but was thrownout at the plate by left fielder Jessica Choate.

The lead went to 4-1 in the top of the fifth as Weber led off by beating out a bunt and going to third as Hebert popped a single to right. One out later,Misti Chamberlin bobbled Benn’s grounder to short, allowing Weber to come in to score. Mansfield starter Tara Fruge then settled down, retiringthe final eight batters she faced.

Mansfield threatened in the bottom of the fifth as Lindsey McMellon reached on an error and Chamberlin walked with one out. But Benn caughtMcMellon trying to steal third and Hymel struck out Choate to end the inning.

Mansfield broke through for two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Tyleropened the inning with a bloop single into left field. Nuzun followed with agrounder that skipped past first baseman Candice Millet. One out later,Ursula Maroski doubled in Tyler and Nuzun to cut the deficit to 4-3.

After Maroski went to third on a wild pitch, Cashio came up with one of the big plays of the game, fielding Jessie Radford’s bunt attempt and catching Maroski off third. That play became bigger as McMellon andHeather Melton followed with singles to load the bases.

But Hymel then got Chamberlin to hit a shot off her glove to Hebert who threw out Chamberlin to end the inning. Hymel retired the side in order inthe seventh, getting Nuzun to pop up to Millet to end the game.

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