Lutcher takes 2-1 softball win from St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2009


LUTCHER — While St. Charles’ hopes of a repeat state softball championship remain as alive as ever, its chances to repeat as outright District 9-3A champion took a serious hit Thursday.

That’s because rival Lutcher bumped St. Charles into third place after taking a 2-1 district victory. That allowed the Bulldogs (12-10-2, 4-1) to remain locked in a first place tie with Brusly, while the Comets (15-6, 2-2) absorbed their second district loss of the season.

“We squandered some opportunities early,” said St. Charles coach Ty Monica. “There were some pitches I’d like to take back now, but I can’t. They took advantage of our mistakes, like any good team will do.”

Lutcher won despite a strong performance on the mound by Courtney Western (8-5), who allowed only two hits.

But the hero of the day for the Bulldogs was pitcher Sara Schexnayder, who held the Comets to a single run while generating the winning margin with her bat — her double in the fifth inning scored two runs, keeping Lutcher in control of its own destiny in district play.

“It felt good to finally hit the ball,” said Schexnayder, who had entered the game in a hitting slump. “I went up with confidence, and apparently it helped me. You can never go up there thinking you can’t hit the ball.”

Schexnayder (4-1) scattered eight hits, allowing only an unearned run to cross the plate in the sixth inning.

“She feels like she’s got a lot to prove from last year, after the state tournament,” said Lutcher coach Blake Orgeron. “She puts the pressure on herself to stay focused every single pitch.”

The Comets’ best chance to take control may have come in the third inning. Western led off with a double and Dominique DiCarlo followed with a single to leave runners on first and third for Katie Reine.

But on a DiCarlo steal attempt, Lutcher sniffed it out and caught her in a rundown. As Lutcher tagged DiCarlo out, the Bulldogs caught Western leaning for home plate, catching her in another rundown and throwing her out as she dove back to third. Reine then lined out to end the Comet threat.

“We had a steal on,” said Monica. “Nicki (DiCarlo) did what she was supposed to and made them come tag her. But Courtney kind of got hung out in no man’s land, and didn’t get a really good read on the play.”

Lutcher had a similar threat extinguished after getting two on with one out. But Keri Zeringue lined into a double play, leaving the game in a scoreless tie.

St. Charles stranded one runner in the fourth and two in the fifth.

Michelle Duhe finally sparked Lutcher in the bottom of the fifth. Her single with one out was followed by a Janey Roussel walk. Then Schexnayder rocketed a ball into right-center field to bring both home. She would be thrown out trying to advance to third, and SCC catcher Kadie Levatino ended the inning with a diving catch on a foul ball — but the damage was done.

Megan Louque gave SCC hope in the top of the sixth, singling and later scoring on a Lutcher throwing error.

With SCC down to its final three outs, Jennifer Heltz singled to lead off the seventh. Western bunted her into scoring position. After DiCarlo flied out, Reine reached on an error. But Schexnayder retired Brooke Becker on a groundball to end the game.

“I was very happy with our defense today,” said Orgeron. “We had to play lights out. Thank God we made some plays.”

Said Monica: “I told the girls that this won’t be the last 2-1 game they lose in their lifetime. It won’t be their last chance to come up with a clutch hit.

“Our district is one thing. But with the power point system the way that it is, the top two teams still advance automatically. Our ultimate goal is still in our reach, and that doesn’t change with one loss.”