No. 8 Lady Eagles drop Sacred Heart to return to state tournament

St. John's Jessie Brown attempts to beat out a throw to first base against Sacred Heart's Lyndsey Brignac in the Lady Eagles' 6-3 Class 1A regional playoff victory on Friday afternoon. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

PLAQUEMINE – No. 8 seed St. John the Evangelist High School scored five runs in the fourth inning to push past ninth-seeded Sacred Heart of Ville Platte 6-3 in the Class 1A regional playoffs on Friday afternoon and advance to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

The Lady Eagles (22-10) under coach Oliver "Cricket" Crockett, advance to the LHSAA Fastpitch Top 56 State Softball Tournament in Sulphur at Frasch Park where they will tangle 16th-seeded Westminster Christian, a 1-0 winner over top seed Cedar Creek, on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner will move on to the semifinals against the victor of No. 4 Central Catholic of Morgan City and No. 5 Archbishop Hannan, the two-time defending state champion. On the other side of the bracket includes No. 3 Catholic of Pointe Coupee, No. 6 Oak Grove, No. 7 Ascension Catholic and No. 18 False River Academy.

"Somebody is going there to win three games, so it might as well be us," Crockett said. "1A is one of the toughest classes and it is a tough draw but if we can get over that first hump, I think we will be OK.

"We have been getting ahead in games so it was nice to see us come back after being down. I thought that was big."

Kamryn Theriot earned the win in the circle for St. John allowing seven hits over seven innings while striking out three and walking none. Leadoff hitter Theriot also was 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and three RBIs.

"The whole team has been working extremely hard and we are really excited about going back to state," Theriot said.

Victoria Weaver was 2-for-3 with a run and RBI, while Brooklyn Pearce was 1-for-3. Keri Yarbrough and Alex Carbo each had one RBI and Madison Schnebelen (stolen base), Shelbi Strickland and Samantha Rivet each scored one run.

Kristen Ortegeron took the loss for Sacred Heart allowing five hits and walking four over six innings.

Heather Johnson (run) and Courtney Cloud (double) were each 2-for-3, while Allyson Soileau was 2-for-4. Hanna Fontenot was 1-for-2, Taylor Perry scored two runs and Lyndsey Ardoin had two RBIs.

"You can't give up a big inning to a good ball club," Sacred Heart coach Doug Guillory said. "We just didn't get the hits when we needed them. That is how it goes."

Sacred Heart put runners on the corners in the top of the first when shortstop Strickland dove just shy of a baserunner but St. John quickly got out of the inning with a fly to centerfielder Jessie Brown.

Theriot led off the bottom half with a single but courtesy runner Alana Blanchard was caught stealing. Theriot struck out two in the second inning.

"She does a good job when we can keep her in a rhythm," Crockett said. "She hit her spots very well and was able to keep them off balance."

Perry reached on an error and stole second to lead off the third. After a sacrifice, second baseman Yarbrough caught a pop up at the fence and fired home just shy of the runner tagging from third to put Sacred Heart ahead 1-0.

St. John quickly answered in the bottom half. Weaver lined through the right infield and Yarbrough drew a walk before Kortlyn Theriot's sacrifice bunt. Kamryn Theriot's sacrifice fly to left made it 1-1.

The Lady Trojans loaded the bases in the fourth inning but came up empty after rightfielder Carlee Smith held Cloud to a single by cutting off a liner before it rolled to the wall.

Payton Passantino drew a a one-out walk to load the bases in the bottom half after Pearce lined through the right infield, courtesy runner Schnebelen stole second and Strickland drew a leadoff walk.

Weaver lined through the infield to put St. John ahead and Yarbrough and Carbo followed with grounders to short that produced runs. Theriot's double through the left infield plated two more runs to put the Lady Eagles ahead 6-1.

Strickland tagged out Ardoin attempting to steal second from catcher Passantino in the fifth inning and snagged a liner for the second out in the sixth with two runners on.

"We have been preparing all year for this," Strickland said. "We started off pretty slow but at the end of the season we made a comeback and turned it all around because we knew we wanted to go back and finish what we started."

Sacred Heart added two runs in the seventh on one hit and an error before Strckland caught a pop up to end the game.