Comets ready for title run

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Big first inning puts SCC back in state tourney for first time since 2003


Sports Editor

LAPLACE-Chalk up another local team for a trip to Sulphur.

Defeating Pearl River Friday afternoon 6-0, the St. Charles Catholic Lady Comets advanced to the 2005 Class 3A State Tournament in Sulphur.

St. Charles Catholic opens up quarterfinal play Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. when they take on Belle Chasse on field 15 of the Sulphur Softball Complex.

Wasting no time, the Lady Comets put three runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning.

Third baseman Paige Braud led off the game, taking a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall for a leadoff homer and a 1-0 SCC lead.

Braud credits an “awkward” moment as the catalyst for her power stroke against the Lady Rebels.

“In the beginning of this season at a tournament I got hit,” Braud said. “The very next pitch I hit the ball and I got a double. The big joke is that Paige has to get hit in the face before the game. Yesterday at practice my teammates were joking that they were going to hit me in the face so I would hit the ball well. During my first at-bat when I hit the homer, I got hit in the face with the ball trying to bunt. Then I hit the homer.”

Bridget Millet followed with a single and advanced to second on an error. After a single from Mary Clement, Millet scored on an RBI groundout by Felicia Taylor. Clement would score the third run of the inning on a wild pitch.

After the tumultuous first inning both pitchers settled down and neither team mounted a significant threat until the sixth inning.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Brittany Ward drew a walk and Brooke Walker reached on a fielder’s choice.

A two-out single from April Hickman loaded the bases with leftfielder Ashley Smith at bat. Clement got Smith to groundout to Braud to end the threat.

Looking to add some insurance runs in the bottom of the inning, the top of the order again came through for the Lady Comets, pushing across another three runs.

With two outs, Braud reached on an error and scored on a Millet triple. Millet scored a pitch later on Clement’s third hit of the game. After a single from Taylor, Clement finished the big inning scoring on an RBI single by Lauren Coniglio.

Clement squashed the Lady Rebels final threat in the top of the seventh inning. After striking out Lindsey Bruder to lead off the inning, a walk to Tiffany Harper and Ashley Polk reaching on an error put runners on first and second. After recording the second out on a flyout to Kayla Rebaldo, Brittany Ward singled to load the bases.

Clement ended the game a pitch later when she got Walker to flyout to second baseman Erin Luquette and the Lady Comets were on their way to Sulphur.

The story of the game for the Lady Comets was the top of the order as Braud, Millet and Clement finished 7-12 with all six runs scored and three runs driven in.

Clement was also equally as impressive in the circle picking up the complete-game shutout victory, allowing three hits and striking out seven.

“I’m very excited,” Clement said. “This will be my first year that I get to play in the field in Sulphur, because I was used mostly as a designated player my freshman season when I went.

“There was one batter that I struggled with, but I seem to have all my pitches on. Pitching with a lead, especially early really calms you down.”

Lady Comets Head Coach David Lowry said he is happy for his team and knows that many other squads wish they were in their position.

“Ever since the start of the playoffs it has been focus, focus, focus,” Lowry said. “We have just preached to focus every pitch and don’t get distracted. We came out and Paige electrified the crowd with the homerun and then after that we kept hitting the ball behind her. I’m really pleased with the way we have been playing.”

One of several Lady Comets making their second trip to Sulphur, Braud said the previous experience in the state tournament will prove vital to the St. Charles Catholic’s success.

“It’s important to me because softball has been a part of my life for a very long time,” Braud said. “Two years ago I got the feeling when I was a sophomore and I have it again now.”

Showing off her power to the opposite field, Millet credited her coaching staff.

“My sophomore year Coach Lowry really started teaching me how to hit the ball to the opposite field,” Millet said. “Not many teams can do that and it helps you drive in a lot more runners. I just got into the habit of doing that.”