Lutcher whips Parkview for state title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009


On almost any other day, in any other game, the seven runs scored by the Parkview Baptist softball team would have been more than enough to claim victory.

But on Saturday night, those seven runs simply weren’t enough to derail Lutcher’s championship dreams.

The Lady Bulldogs held off a furious Parkview Baptist rally in the seventh inning of the Class 3A championship game, triumphing 9-7 and capturing their first state softball championship since 1998.

“This is the most amazing feeling in the whole world,” said Lutcher center fielder Katie Ocmand.

“Everyone should be able to experience this,” said Lutcher coach Blake Orgeron, who earned his first championship as a head coach. “I’m just happy for the girls. Our seniors went out there and just sold out with all they had.”

The Bulldogs win keeps the 3A title in the River Parishes — and within the same district — after St. Charles won the crown a year ago, also over Parkview Baptist.

Lutcher led by as many as seven runs at one point, relying on consistent contact and relentless aggression on the base paths to put more runs on the board than had been scored altogether in its previous two playoff wins (six).

The Bulldogs scored one run in its first 12 innings of tournament play this past weekend. In their last seven, including a sixth-inning rally in the state semifinal, they scored 12.

“We were aggressive. I told my team from the beginning, put the ball in play and do what we do,” Orgeron said. “And what we do is run wild. It’s what we’ve built our philosophy on.”

Lutcher led 9-3 entering the seventh inning of play, but the Eagles made an exciting finish of what had been a rout.

Ironically, it began with the very weapon Lutcher had used to build its lead — speed. With one out, three straight Parkview batters legged out infield hits. Victoria Hugghins smashed a double into deep centerfield to score two runs. A batter later, Rachael Hugghins hit a ground ball for the second out, but brought home a run to make it 9-6. Carli Wheeler doubled to make it 9-7, and Adair Hunt followed with a walk.

But with the tying run on base, Abby Liberto grounded out to LHS third baseman Suzanne Louque, who threw to first to clinch the championship.

The seventh was the first time at the tournament that a team had sustained success against Bulldogs’ pitcher Sara Schexnayder, who pitched brilliantly on her way to victories in all three games.

Orgeron said that he felt his sophomore pitcher has been on a mission since his team’s loss a year earlier in the quarterfinals.

She concurred.

“We all knew that we didn’t finish the job last year,” she said. “Everyone worked all year to come back here and get what we deserve.”

She said that even as Parkview pulled closer, she felt no concern.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” she said confidently. “I knew my defense would pull us through. All we had to do was finish.”

Keri Zeringue singled to lead off the first inning for Lutcher. Michelle Duhe walked, and the two advanced on a double steal.

That set up Ocmand, who singled and drove home both runners — the second coming after Duhe was ruled safe on a play at the plate.

Schexnayder helped herself to some run support with another single that drove in Ocmand to make it 3-0.

It was more of the same in the second inning. With two outs, Louque, Zeringue and Kristin LaBauve all reached to load the bases. Duhe then reached on an error at second base, and two runs came across to make it 5-0.

Parkview finally answered in the fourth, scoring two runs. But Lutcher fired back in the bottom half by scoring four runs on five hits, an error and a wild pitch. That included RBIs by Duhe and Lauren Roussel.

It wasn’t the type of game that anyone would have dreamed of.

“We thought it would have been a 1-0 game,” said Ocmand. “We never thought we would have had that big a lead. But we knew (Parkview starter Carli Wheeler, who threw a combined 20 innings in the previous two games) had thrown a lot of pitches. We had to finish what we started.”

Contrarily, the result was exactly what the Bulldogs’ dreams were made of.

“I threw down my glove and ran as fast as I could to celebrate with my teammates,” Ocmand said. “We did it together, and I didn’t want to miss a second.”

LUTCHER 3, WESTLAKE 2 — Before they could get to the championship on Saturday night, the Bulldogs had some work to do in the afternoon against Westlake in the 3A semifinals.

The Rams took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning on a single and two doubles.

But LHS answered in the bottom of the sixth, when an infield hit by Ocmand was sandwiched between walks by Louque and Schexnayder. Christie Veron made good with a three-run double, and Schexnayder closed the door in the seventh for the win.

“I can’t even describe the feeling,” Veron said. “I didn’t think about the bases being loaded, only what I had to do for my team.”

Schexnayder struck out seven and allowed eight hits.

LUTCHER 1, CALDWELL 0 — Friday saw a pitcher’s duel between Schexnayder and Caldwell’s Ashlea Hart.

The game was scoreless until the seventh inning, when Ocmand scored on a passed ball after reaching on an error and advancing to third on a Schexnayder single.

Ocmand finished 1-for-2 with a steal.

Schexnayder allowed five hits, struck out two and walked no batters.

“I told my team that we all needed to step up and take control. I’m so proud of them,” she said.