The Vandebilt Catholic softball team is going to Sulphur again for the Fastpitch 56 Tournament – that happens virtually every year. But for the first-time since 1991, they will be joined in the state quarterfinals by cross-town rival Ellender.
The No. 3 Lady Terriers earned their way into the Class 4A State Quarterfinals with a gutsy, 2-1 road victory against No. 19 Grant on Friday afternoon.
But while the Lady Terriers won with pitching and defense, No. 5 Ellender punched its first ticket to Sulphur in more than 20 years with offense, dominating No. 12 Bastrop 16-9 to move within three wins of the state championship.
Both of the teams will continue their quest for the state championship on Friday afternoon at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
The Lady Patriots will take on No. 4 St. Thomas More at 4 p.m. on Field 16. Two hours later, Vandebilt will take the diamond and play No. 22 Rayne on field 13.
The teams would not be in line to play one another until the State Championship Game.
For Vandebilt, the trip to Sulphur seemed to be destiny. That’s because the 2014 season is the last year in historic coach Margaret Johnson’s career – one filled with championships accumulated on the diamond dirt at Sulphur.
To get to the quarters, Vandebilt used dominant pitching from junior Nora Keehn, who shunned Grant in the second round with 12 strikeouts.
From there, the Lady Terriers used RBIs from Erin Crane and Mackenzie Rousseau to generate enough offense for the win.
For Ellender, it was all about the offense. The Lady Patriots scored seven runs in the fourth inning, thanks in part to a grand slam home run by Kyler Trosclair.
But all of the runs were much-needed, as Bastrop went blow-for-blow with the Lady Patriots, sending the game to the sixth inning in a nine-all tie.
From there, the Lady Patriots punched their tickets to the quarterfinals with another crooked number – a seven-run sixth inning capped by a base knock from Annie Robinson.
With a huge lead in-hand, Ellender junior pitcher Alyssa Bush put Bastrop away for good in the seventh inning to polish the win, which was played before a jam-packed crowd at the school’s Houma-based campus.
On the surface, it looks like the Lady Patriots will have a tougher road to the State Championship game than Vandebilt.
St. Thomas More is a traditional powerhouse – a school that annually contends for champions in Class 4A.Vandebilt’s Quarterfinals’ foe will enter Sulphur as the lowest-seeded team left in the draw.
But if Ellender is able to get by its Quarterfinals’ foe, the path may be clearer afterward, as No. 1-seed Cabrini was upset in the second round of the postseason. They would have been in line to battle Ellender in the semis.