Airline falls to Barbe in LHSAA Class 5A title softball game
SULPHUR – It seemed only fitting that Airline’s Raelin Chaffin should get some redemption after the way her softball season ended two years ago and was eliminated last spring.
But although she got her team to the LHSAA Class 5A state title game on Saturday in Frasch Park, the Lady Vikings fell 3-1 to a Barbe team that hit two home runs off the LSU signee.
The 2019 version of the Lady Vikings had high expectations. Chaffin had already earned a scholarship offer from LSU and was striking out about two-thirds of the batters she faced that season. A senior laden Lady Viking team, which included Chaffin’s sister, Mackenzie, had its sights set on a state title.
Their mantra was, “if we can score five runs, we’ll beat everyone because Rae won’t give up five runs.” That worked well until the 2019 state semifinals against Barbe when the Chaffin-led team gave up three runs in the top of the seventh, left the bases loaded in the bottom and lost by 6-5.
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But this past weekend at Frasch Park, Chaffin was a markedly different pitcher. Stronger and in command of her pitches, she had allowed just a single run through the first four state playoff games. The single marker came on a home run in Friday’s semifinal from No. 1 West Monroe’s Louisiana-Lafayette commit Maddy Hayden, a good friend.
In Saturday’s 5A championship game against Barbe, Chaffin put her considerable talent on display, although it wasn’t enough to earn a state championship after the Buccaneers’ Nyjah Fontenot and Madison Chretien homered in the fourth as the difference makers.
“Obviously, they’re a great hitting team,” Airline coach Brittany Frazier-Smith said. “We know we have to come back and fight harder, and work hard. Raelin has had a great career. She got us to the state tournament all three years she could. Unfortunately, last year was a really good chance for us and that got taken away.”
Following the 2019 contest, Chaffin had a difficult time recovering and spent several minutes in the outfield shedding tears and feeling like she let her team down.
“I remember after the game Rae just cried and was so upset that she had let us down,” Makenzie Chaffin said. “I just knelt by her and held her. It was a very emotional time.”
On Saturday, there were plenty of postgame tears in the dugout, including some by Chaffin, who will be pitching in the SEC next fall.
“We’re very proud of her and can’t wait to see what she does at LSU,” Frazier-Smith said.
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