Moments after scoring the winning run in her team’s 4-3 victory over No. 28-seeded Lakeshore in the opening round of the Class 4A softball playoffs last Saturday, Ellender shortstop and senior leader Kyler Trosclair wasn’t sure if she’d just played her final home game at the school she has spent the past several years helping turn into one of the fastest-rising programs in the state.
All Trosclair could think about was that after three years of trying, her team finally had its first playoff victory. If this was her last game on Ellender’s home field, it was a terrific memory to leave with.
“It’s a great way to finish it off, with a playoff win,” Trosclair said. “We’d never won a playoff game before.”
And if not for Trosclair’s efforts, the Lady Patriots surely would not have won one Saturday.
Trosclair, who is committed to the University of Memphis, finished 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and three runs scored, and she started the Lady Patriots’ winning rally in the seventh inning.
Trosclair reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning, then promptly stole second base before coming around to score on catcher Annie Robinson’s game-winning single up the middle.
It was the type of situation Trosclair said she dreamed of all along.
“I knew I was up and I knew that’s where I wanted to be, leading off,” she said. “I’ve been in that situation more than once, so I knew what I had to do to get myself on and I trusted my teammates to score me. We had been in that situation so many times that I knew we could come through.”
Ellender, the No. 5 seed in the 4A bracket, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Trosclair scored on an RBI double from Brianna Bourg, the Lady Patriots’ sophomore second baseman who has worked her way into the cleanup spot this season after previously hitting toward the bottom of the order.
Ellender gave up the lead over the next two innings but went back on top in the fifth with a two-run rally. Pitcher Alyssa Bush helped her cause with the bat that inning, driving in the go-ahead run on an RBI sacrifice fly that gave the Lady Patriots a 3-2 lead.
Bush would later surrender the tying run in the top of the seventh, but she finished with nine strikeouts on the day and limited the damage to three runs on six hits.
She has been in the circle for every big Ellender victory this season, and Saturday was no different. This time of year, she said her biggest obstacle wasn’t so much fatigue but making the necessary adjustments.
“You get different umpires from different places, so you’ve got to find the adjustments,” Bush said. “The home plate umpire, she did not like that outside pitch at all, so I had to try to adjust to her.”
Ellender got help from the rest of its defense throughout the game, too.
With the Lady Patriots trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning and Lakeshore threatening with runners on first and second and no one out, centerfielder Courtney Dardar made a leaping catch to rob Emma Autin of extra bases. Dardar then fired the ball into to second base to double off a Titans runner for a double play. Bush struck out the next batter to get out of the inning without giving up a run.
Ellender coach Janie Trosclair said that Dardar’s catch was a big turning point in the game.
“I always tell the kids that base-running will win games for you, but it will also take you out of a game real fast, and that was a killer base-running mistake,” Coach Trosclair said. “I think the runner thought it was two outs, but when you make mistakes like that in a big game like this, it gets you.”
After defeating Lakeshore, Ellender (21-8 overall) was awaiting the winner of Tuesday’s bi-district game between No. 12-seeded Bastrop and No. 21-seeded Crowley in the Regional Round of the playoffs.
But for now, the team is savoring its first ever playoff victory, which Coach Trosclair said was a culmination of hard work and the experience of suffering first-round losses the two previous seasons. The team was determined not to let that happen three years in a row, she said.
“I always say it goes back to hard work,” Coach Trosclair said. “We’ve had some games that prepared us for this game. We didn’t freak out or panic. We stayed in control and trusted ourselves. I’ve got kids that have been playing since their freshman season and they’ve been in a lot of situations like that.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE AREA
As the playoffs got underway last weekend, Ellender wasn’t the only team from the Houma-Thibodaux area competing in post-season play.
In Class 4A, No. 3-seeded Vandebilt Catholic was scheduled to host No. 30 St. Michael the Archangel on Tuesday. The Lady Terriers (18-10 in the regular season) won the 7-4A district with a perfect 8-0 record in district play this season. No score from the game was available at press time.
Elsewhere in Class 3A, No. 20 E.D. White Catholic was scheduled to travel to No. 13 St. Charles on Monday. Scores from both games were not available at press time.
In Class 1A, two local teams from District 9-1A began their playoff journeys this week as well.
No. 16-seeded Houma Christian was scheduled to face No. 17 Ecole Classique in those schools’ playoff opener on Monday. The Lady Warriors were 14-12 overall in the regular season and a perfect 12-0 in district play.
No. 18-seeded Covenant Christian (14-8) was scheduled to face No. 15 St. Mary on Tuesday.
Scores from those games were not available at press time.
The Ellender softball team poses for a photo before a practice this season. The Lady Patriots won their first-ever playoff game last weekend, scoring a 4-3 victory over No. 28 Lakeshore. The Lady Patriots will play either Bastrop or Crowley in Round 2.