It may not have been the most artistic game ever played but Riverside Academy’s Chloe Simon picked the perfect time to hit the first home run of her career.
Riverside relinquished a 5-0 lead after one inning and saw visiting Catholic High of New Iberia cut its deficit to 13-12 to take temporary control of the momentum with a five-run fifth inning.
With one out in the bottom half of the fifth, the sophomore right fielder hit a solo home run to ignite a five-run inning for Riverside as the Lady Rebels went on to defeat the Lady Panthers 19-13 Saturday afternoon in Reserve in the Division III quarterfinals to earn another trip to the state tournament in Sulphur.
“It feels great. I never hit a home run in my life. I came into the game super confident and super ready to play. It’s crazy,” said Simon.
The right fielder said she thought she had a shot at hitting a homer after driving the ball to the wall in her previous at-bat.
“The one before, it almost hit the fence and the girl caught it so I knew I had the possibility of me hitting it out. I had that good contact and I knew it was just going out,” Simon said.
After Simon’s home run, the Lady Rebels (18-8) added to their lead with a run-scoring single by Ashley Hymel and a two-run double by Cara Campbell.
Kate St. Pierre was denied the chance to hit in the inning when she was intentionally a walked.
“I’ve never been intentionally walked before. If felt good,” said St. Pierre.
St. Pierre didn’t get the chance to hit because the Lady Panthers didn’t want to face her again. The senior left fielder hit a first-inning grand slam, a two-run homer in the fourth inning and had an infield hit to open the third inning to eventually score another run.
For the day, she drove in six runs and scored three times. As it turned out, Riverside needed all of St. Pierre’s production Saturday.
“Kate’s been batting in the heart of the lineup. I bumped her down a little bit today but I know what she’s capable of. She’s been settling getting base hits this whole year so for her to come up big two times – I’m sure with her being a senior – she led us,” said Riverside coach Tamra Regalo.
The result sends Riverside to the state tournament. The Lady Rebels, the No. 4 seed, are schedule to face top-seeded Notre Dame of Crowley. Notre Dame advances with a 14-0 win in five inning over Ascension Episcopal, the No. 8 seed.
“I’m super excited. That’s just my favorite part of the year, just going to state and hanging out with all my friends and teammates. It’s just great memories,” said Simon.
In other playoff action involving River Parish teams Saturday, Destrehan was eliminated from the Class 5A playoffs with a 1-0 loss at Airline while St. Charles Catholic was ousted from the Division III quarterfinals with a 9-1 loss at Hannan.
Going to the state tournament is becoming a matter of routine for the Lady Rebels.
“I always love going to Sulphur. It’s a great environment. It’s super loud. I’m glad they get to go back for the third year in a row. I think this is a very good ball club,” said Regalo.
After Riverside grabbed the early lead, the teams traded runs for much of the remainder of the game. Following Riverside’s big inning in the fifth inning, the Lady Rebels shut down CHNI in the sixth, keeping the Lady Panthers from cutting into a lead RA had rebuilt to seven runs at 19-12.
“We just told them, one pitch at a time. We talk to the pitchers about that all the time about staying within yourself and not overdo it. It’s the walks that get you. If they can do that and our defense can play behind them, everything should take care of itself,” said Regalo.
Each team was guilty of fielding errors, throwing errors and baserunning blunders in the game. The result was each team managed to have a five-run inning with all of the runs being unearned.
Riverside’s came in the bottom of the first.
A dropped fly ball in right field opened the floodgates. Instead of two outs and a runner at first, Riverside had runners on second and first and one out. After Alonah Felton was hit by a pitch to load the bases, a bloop single by Hymel drove in the first run of the game.
With two outs, St. Pierre belted her grand slam to give the Lady Rebels a 5-0 lead.
“I went up to the plate saying I was going to hit the first pitch, no matter what, and I think that’s what got me going. I did know that one was going. It felt good coming off the bat,”
said St. Pierre.
Leading 5-1, Riverside added three more runs in the third inning on a leadoff home run by Alainah Felton and a two-run shot by Camryn Loving.
After the Lady Panthers (23-11) cut the deficit to 9-7 in the top of the fourth, RA countered with four runs in the bottom half of the inning, which included St. Pierre’s two-run homer to make it 13-7.
“The second one, I wasn’t expecting that one to go over. That one felt good, too, but I wasn’t expecting it to go over,” said St. Pierre.
It was now Catholic High’s turn to score five unearned runs, taking advantage of three Lady Rebel errors.
A run-scoring ground out by Kylie Guillotte produced the first run. Jordyn Mire followed with a grounder between first and second base. With the RA first baseman having to range to her right to field the ball, the second baseman was unable to get to the bag, allowing for an infield hit that scored another run.
The Lady Panthers added three more runs in the inning on a fielding error with the bases loaded and a two-run single by Oakley Guillot as CHNI pulled to within 13-12.
“We definitely didn’t play our best defensive game today. We’ve played some great, errorless games and sometimes we throw it around. That’s something we have to work on this week,” said Regalo as her team begins preparations for the state tournament.
Airline 1, Destrehan 0: With the way the Lady Wildcats’ postseason has gone, a 1-0 scored seemed likely.
Destrehan, the No. 23 seed, won its first two playoff games by 1-0 margins, including a 13-inning affair, but the Lady Wildcats were on the wrong side of the score in their Class 5A quarterfinal loss at Airline.
“We knew going in it would be a tough, hard-fought ball game,” Destrehan coach Ken Montz said. “Their pitcher is the best pitcher in the state.
“We battled hard. We played about as well as we played the other games, we just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”
The game was played up as a matchup of two of the best sophomore pitchers in the state and it lived up to the billing.
Destrehan pitcher Tyler Oubre allowed only one run in 27 playoff innings. She has been unscored upon through her first 23 innings of the postseason.
The lone run came on a solo home run by Airline’s Maddie Ennis in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Our pitcher made one mistake. She left one about belt high and the girl connected on a solo home run and that was the difference in the game,” said Montz.
Except for the home run, Airline, the No. 2 seed and now 30-3 on the season, never got another runner to advance past first base.
Oubre allowed five hits with no walks while striking out five in the game.
Airline’s Raelin Chaffin, who committed to LSU before ever pitching a game in high school, limited the Lady Wildcats to two hits while walking one and striking out 11. She retired the final 12 batters of the game.
The game, Montz said, basically came down to Ennis’ one swing of the bat.
“That’s what is going to happen in playoff games when you have two good teams battle with really, really good pitchers. It’s going to come down to one play. I talked to the team about that before the game – about what pitch was going to be the deciding moment of the game. Will it be the first pitch or the last pitch or any pitch in between. That’s why you have to focus on every single pitch in the playoffs,” the Destrehan coach said.
For the Lady Wildcats, which concluded the season at 16-17, the 2019 season was a learning year, according to Montz.
“We upgraded our schedule a lot. We took some lumps early. The girls stayed with it and were mentally tough and by the end of the season, they believed they belonged with anybody in the state. The last three or four games of the year, I think we proved we belong with the best teams in the state,” said Montz.
Hannan 9, St. Charles Catholic 1: The game remained close until Hannan exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
SCC threatened on several occasions but was unable to come up with the timely hit.
“We left the bases loaded twice and another time we had runners on second and third and we just couldn’t get that clutch hit. They ended up doing that in the fifth and sixth innings and that was the difference in the game,” St. Charles coach Ty Monica said.
In the third inning, St. Charles loaded the bases but Hannan pitcher Alex Clesi got Taylor Perilloux, the Lady Comets’ three-hole hitter, and cleanup hitter Maddie Herbert out on strikeouts.
“We had our third- and four-hole hitters up and we couldn’t have scripted it up any better from that standpoint. That’s supposed to be two of our better hitters, and all-of-a-sudden, it was strikeout, strikeout, and that kind of hurt,” said Monica.
The game was scoreless until second-seeded Hannan (24-6) scored in the bottom of the fourth inning before the Lady Comets tied things up again in the top of the fifth inning.
A Blakeley Heltz single and a walk issued to Alyssa Hooge put runners on second and first for St. Charles. After Brooke St. Pierre hit into a fielder’s choice that forced out Heltz at third base, Lauren St. Martin came up with a base hit to score Hooge to tie the game.
Hannan extended the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run single by Shelby Thompson.
St. Charles loaded the bases again in the top of the sixth inning but Clesi struck out Hooge to end the inning.
Big hits for Hannan in the bottom of the sixth included a two-run double by Alexis Dale and a two-run home run by Gentry Spinks.
“The score really wasn’t indicative of how the game played out. They had a two-run single in the fifth to go up 3-1 and then in the sixth inning they got a two-run single and things snowballed from there. Up until that point, I thought we were playing some pretty decent softball,” Monica said.
St. Charles, the No. 7 seed in the Division II playoffs, ended its season 17-11.
“Today was kind of like a microcosm of what the whole season was. We left a ton of runners on base. In the first and second games of the season, we played Dutchtown and we left 14 on base against them. When you are playing good competition, you can do that. We made a couple of baserunning mistakes that hurt us in today’s game and that’s something we have been fighting throughout the course of the year. We played pretty well defensively, which is kind of what we hang our hat on. They came up with the clutch hit and we didn’t,” said Monica.