Denham Springs drops Lutcher in season opener

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 22, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / Febuary 22, 1999

LUTCHER – Coming off the first state championship in the program’s history, Lutcher softball coach John Bentivegna knows his team cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

“We have a lot of kids coming back from last year’s team but they have to perform. We have 3/4 of the team back but they have to perform.”Bentivegna knows the Lady Bulldogs have a tougher road this year. Lutcherwill face defending Class 5A state champion Denham Springs three times this season and will also play Class 5A power St. Amant. “Everybody is out to get you,” Bentivegna said. “We have a tough schedule.I hope it helps us and I hope seeing that kind of pitching helps.”Lutcher opened the season Thursday against Denham Springs. The LadyJackets took advantage of a couple of Lutcher errors to defeat the Lady Bulldogs, 4-1.

In the top of the first, catcher Jenny Reeves led off with a single to left and was sacrifice to second by Laura Davis. Joy Webre then reached asshortstop Michelle Roussel’s throw pulled Candace Millet off first. AfterErinne Milligan loaded the bases with a single to right, Reeves scored as Sarah Meadows singled off Millet’s glove. Webre came around on a grounderto second by Amy Ford to make it 2-0. Erin Hymel got out of furthertrouble by striking out Chesney McAdams.

Lutcher cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the second as Millet popped a single over first base to lead off the inning. Millet then came around toscore as Reeves’ throw down to first went into right field with Katie Cashio at the plate.

Lutcher threatened in the third as Cindy Guidry led off with a walk and courtesy runner Cassie Waguespack was sacrificed to second by Hymel.

But Meadows got Jenee Weber to fly out to center and struck out Becky Lambert to end the inning.

Denham Springs added two runs in the top of the seventh as Amanda Ortego led off with a single and reached second as Christy Melancon dropped Roussel’s flip on a grounder by Ashley Ford. After Hymel struck outReeves, Davis singled to left to load the bases. Ortego then came in toscore on a wild pitch. Webre followed with a single to left, scoring Ford tomake it 4-1.

Milligan followed with a grounder to Cashio at third who threw to first for the out. Millet then fired home to get Davis trying to score to end theinning. Meadows retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning topreserve the win.

Hymel allowed nine hits while striking out five and walking none. Meadowsgave up two hits while walking one and striking out 10.

“I told the team at the beginning of the year that what got us the championship last year was errorless ball,” Bentivegna said. “If you stayaway from errors, you will win ballgames. But I was pleased. We hung inthere with them. We just didn’t swing the bats like I thought we would.”The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a 25-3 season in 1998, one that included a District 10-3A title with a 9-0 record. Lutcher went on to defeatCatholic-New Iberia, 15-4, for the Class 3A state championship.

Lutcher brings back the majority of that team. The Lady Bulldogs did loseApril Benn and Brandy Neal, both all-state players, as well as Mitzi Hebert and Kim St. Pierre.The Lady Bulldogs do bring back Hymel, the River Parishes player of the year in 1998. Hymel finished the season with a 22-2 record with a .43earned run average and 158 strikeouts in 147 innings. She will be backedup by Roussel, a sophomore.

Weber, who batted .448 last year, leads off the batting order and will playcenter field. Lambert, a .311 hitter last year, will bat second and playright. Roussel batted third Thursday and replaces Neal at short with Milletbatting cleanup and playing first. Cashio returns at third after batting.318 a year ago. Melancon, who batted .333 a year ago, replaces Hebert atsecond. Guidry takes over for Benn behind the plate with Toni Rileyreplacing St. Pierre in the outfield.Lutcher is playing in the Early Bird tournament today at Denham Springs and will host Vandebilt Tuesday. District play begins March 16 at Plaquemine.

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