Evangel eliminates top-seeded Rebels again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011



SULPHUR — It was a matchup for which the word ‘hype’ was practically invented, a semifinal showdown between top-seeded Riverside and defending Class 2A defending champion Evangel, a team that knocked the Rebels out of Sulphur a year ago.

The teams traded blows for seven innings. But in the end, the Rebels saw their season end at the hands of the Eagles once again, 7-5.

“We had one bad inning and really gave them those runs,” said Riverside coach Kristy Hebert. “But when you get here, anything can happen and seed doesn’t matter. They swung the bats well, one through nine, and hit it solid.”

Evangel would go on to defeat Kinder in the state championship game to repeat as 2A titlist. Kinder had rallied from a 7-1 deficit to defeat John Curtis, the Rebels’ district rival, 10-8.

The deciding blow was delivered in the sixth inning when Baylee Shephard’s triple to right field plated two runs to break a 5-5 tie. Haley Sanders and Jenna Kreamer each singled prior to Shephard’s hit.

“It was the best feeling ever,” said Shephard. “We knew she was pitching us inside and I was ready for it.

“When you play against so many 5A teams, you’re used to facing great pitching and it prepared us.”

Said Evangel coach Sherilyn Mueller, “My girls hit about as well as I’ve seen them hit this year.”

Evangel (23-9) put Riverside in an early 4-0 hole thanks to a combination of timely hitting and Rebel errors. Baylee Shephard led off the second inning with a single, then an error left Evangel with two on and no outs. The runners advanced on another error with one out. Sarah Lafitte dropped a single into right scored a run to make it 1-0, then Olivia Guin’s double to deep left center plated two more runs. Haley Sanders knocked in another run to give ECA a 4-0 lead.

Riverside (30-3) fought back in the very next inning. Kelsi Roussel, Megan Stein and Taylor Terrio all singled back-to-back to lead off the bottom of the third, and Shea LaFountain’s flare to right plated a run to make it 4-1. Destin Vicknair came up next and laced a double to center to drive home two, making it 4-3. With one out, Kristy Milioto singled home another run, and this time an error cost the Eagles as a second run scored on a misplayed ball; Kaci Simon, who was courtesy running for Vicknair, beat the tag at the plate to put RA ahead 5-4.

“I’m proud of my girls. We could have easily folded after that big inning, but our girls fought back.”

Evangel came right back, tying the game in the fourth on Kreamer’s RBI single with two outs. Lindsey Neyland singled to lead off the inning and stole second base.

“We didn’t panic. When we realized early on we could hit the ball, we felt like we could come back again and score some runs.”

The Eagles had a chance to break the game wide open in the fifth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Vicknair got a flyout and Neyland lined out to Megan Stein in left to end the inning.

But after Evangel pitcher Carolina Sanchez retired Riverside in order in the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles landed the knockout punch on Shephard’s triple.

Milioto led off the next inning with a hot shot that looked destined to be a single, but it was caught by Taylor Guin who leapt to haul it in at second. Jenna Roussel lined out in the inning as well. Sanchez retired the final 10 batters of the game for RA.

“We had a great season. You just hate to see it end this way,” said Hebert. “But I’m proud of what we accomplished. And I’m proud that we continued to fight.”

RIVERSIDE 6, MAMOU 2 — Riverside scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to break a 2-2 tie, leading a charge to advance past Mamou in the Class 2A quarterfinals.

Kori Bourgeois broke the tie when she smashed a double to deep left to plate Kristy Milioto, who singled to lead off the inning. Toni Hebert bunted her way on, setting up Kelsi Roussel, who landed the biggest shot of the game — a three-run home run to left center.

Roussel, who landed a pair of game-winning hits as an eighth-grader in the 2008 state tournament, said that it was her first home run ever.

“When I rounded first and I saw it had cleared the wall, I could only think, ‘What just happened?’ And I just ran even faster.”

Bourgeois said that she knew her team was counting on her to step up after Mamou had tied the game with a run in the top of the sixth.

“I knew they needed me and I felt obligated to come through,” she said. “After (Mamou) scored, we got together and said that we had to pull it together. This wasn’t how we wanted to end it.”

Vicknair allowed five hits and struck out six. Milioto was 2 for 3.