Opelousas Catholic deals St. John heartbreaker in 1-0 semifinal loss

Staff Report

BROUSSARD – One run was all it took.

Unfortunately for the St. John Eagle softball team, that run went to Opelousas Catholic.

A hard-fought battle between top-seeded Opelousas Catholic and No. 4 seed St. John came down to a run in the bottom of the sixth.

The St. John softball team ended its season with a 1-0 loss to Opelousas Catholic in the Division IV Select softball semifinals.

It ended St. John’s season in a 1-0 heartbreaker last Friday at St. Julien Softball Complex in Division IV Select action at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Softball State Tournament.

An infield error paved the way for Madison Lussman to score the lone run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Lussman led off the inning with a bunt to first baseman Emma Burleigh. She advanced to third on an Ashley Little single to right field.

Two singles allowed Lussman to reach third before she scored the lone run in the game.

A Burleigh line-drive double to right put the Eagles in position to tie the game, but OCHS pitcher Ashley Little held back Baylie Romero to deal St. John a heartbreaker.

“We just didn’t get the timely hits,” St. John coach Cindy Prouty said. “We left four runners on base … we had several kids hit it hard. Unfortunately, they hit it right at a defender.”

Prouty said her team was confident throughout the season that they would reach the championship tournament.

The Eagles did not go down without a fight in their first appearance at the state tournament since 2016, she said.

“This year’s team slogan was 'We Can and We Will,'” Prouty said. “So, from the very beginning of the year, they were confident they would be at State.

“The seniors came up with that – I had nothing to do with it – and they almost got it done,” she said. “It’s tough to win it state, and every team deserves to be there. Nobody reaches state without putting in the work.

“My team was no different, she said. “We got a couple tight innings, made some great plays, while Kynleigh Rhymer threw a damn good game.”

OCHS pitcher Ashley Little struck out two Eagles in the top of the first, while Rhymer stopped Opelousas three across in bottom of the frame.

Little struck out two more Eagles in the second and sent St. John back to the field on a pop-up to left.

Rhymer kept Opelousas scoreless off two grounders and a strikeout.

The stalemate persisted through the second when neither team could eke out a hit.

St. John broke the ice in the top of the third when Romero knocked a line drive single to right with one out. Little then struck out Karsyn Vadnais and held Emma Perry to a popup to shortstop.

Rhymer continued to shine on the mound when she forced back the first two batters on a grounder and pop-up, but an error at second base put OCHS on base for the first time in the game. Rhymer stifled Opelousas on a strikeout to keep the game scoreless.

Two Eagles reached first on errors after the first two batters lined out. A popup to foul territory left St. John scoreless.

St. John’s defense shined in the top of the fourth when Rhymer hurled two strikeouts with OCHS runners at the corners. Little got the job done for Opelousas when she held back the Eagles three across in the top of the fifth.

Rhymer remained solid at the mound when she struck out one and kept two other Opelouas runners from reaching first in the fifth.

An infield error sent Emma Perry to first, but Little stopped the next three batters to hold back St. John.

OCHS pulled off the win despite three errors. St. John had two miscues.

“It was the performance of a lifetime for Cassidy Cannella and Kaylee Richard. Both played well defensively,” Prouty said. “Overall, I’m extremely proud of these girls.

“They played calm and confident, and they were ready,” she said. “This loss will be learning experience and I know it will drive them for more next year.”

Opelousas lost 8-4 in the finals to No. 2 seed Calvary Baptist of Shreveport.

A COMMUNITY GATHERING … The Eagles drew a huge crowd not only from their school, but from Plaquemine itself.

The strong attendance on a nearly 100-mile drive added to the adrenaline for the Eagles, Prouty said.

“It was an awesome playoff setting,” she said. “People who had no affiliation besides being from Plaquemine showed up.

“Softball alumni showed up, parents and grandparents and their friends showed up,” Prouty said. “By far, it was the biggest attendance of all games played Saturday … and, man, we gave them a show.”