This season, the Lady Colts moved up to Class-AA from Class-A and proved that all their success was not due to inferior opponents, but due to toughness, hard work and a strong ethic as the Lady Colts became the 2013 Class-AA Fast Pitch Softball State Champions with a 4-0 win over the Leake Academy Lady Rebels. Leake was the defending Class-AA state champions. The Lady Colts finished their magical season at 38-5.
"I'm still in shock. I'm not in shock because I didn't think we could do it, I'm in shock because we take things one game at a time, pitch by pitch and yesterday was no different. I'm so proud of these girls for the way they played. We stayed focus, played great on defense and got hits when we needed them," said a jubilant Lauren LaSuzzo, Bayou head coach.
Through out the entire state tournament, the Lady Colts only struck out seven times at the plate and on Monday the pitching and defense only gave up five hits and one run in two games.
"We played a great tournament, and I'm so thankful for all the support we received from the fans who traveled to Pearl to watch us play,” LaSuzzo said. “It's great to have that type of support. The girls played well and our coaching staff (Laken Wilson and Ashley Holder) did a great job," said LaSuzzo.
To get to the title game, the Lady Colts had to beat the Silliman Institute Lady Wildcats 2-1 in their first game of the day.
Silliman had defeated Bayou twice this season, but the Lady Colts were not fazed as they battled tooth and nail with the Lady Wildcats.
Vickers pitched six innings in the semifinal showdown; striking out three batters and inducing six groundouts and eight fly outs while only giving up three hits.
At the plate, Bayou stroked six hits against Silliman.
In the championship game against Leake Academy, it was all about Ashley Vickers in the circle and Kailyn Lofton's heroics at the plate.
Vickers was strong all tournament, but in the championship game the hurler struck out 10 batters, including six of the first seven batters faced. Vickers induced three fly outs, one ground out, walked three and gave up just two hits in the win.
"I am so proud of Ashley,” LaSuzzo said. “She understands situations and she is always calm. She did a great job all season and yesterday she was in total control in that championship game.”
At the plate, Lofton made things happen for Bayou contributing in each of the teams four runs scored and did it all on her 15th birthday. Lofton went a perfect 2-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
"Kailyn works hard and is a good lead off batter. She is a tough out because she makes contact and hits the ball real hard. She loves to compete. It was her birthday and she really played well for us," LaSuzzo said smiling.
In the bottom of the first Lofton started the inning by reaching base on a walk. A bunt single from Taylor Ann Bailey advanced Lofton, who managed to advance to third off of Leake's inability to handle the ball and then scored from third on the same play off of a throwing error to put the Lady Colts on the board with a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Lofton was back in action again, but this time she didn’t need a bad throw to score, this time the slugger blasted the pitch to center field for a solo homerun to put the Lady Colts up 2-0.
"That was a huge at bat for Kailyn. It really surprised me," said LaSuzzo.
The top of the fourth inning began the way most of the game had gone for Bayou with Vickers getting the first two batters out.
The next Leake batter stroked a single, but it was the next at bat, which created a bit of frustration as Vickers was called for an illegal pitch on what would have been the final out of the inning.
Vickers walked the next batter, but a timeout from LaSuzzo calmed the sophomore down and on the next at bat, with the bases loaded, Vickers struck the batter out to end the inning and the scoring threat.
"Ashley knew what she was doing to make the umpire call the illegal pitch,” LaSuzzo said. “It was a tough situation for her because it was raining at the time and the ball was wet. Ashley is not a pitcher that's going to blow things by you and she understands that she has to use some spin, be smart and let her defense work.”
The Lady Colts responded in the bottom half of the inning with Shelby Newsom leading off with a single and Taylor Newton following with a base hit of her own.
A wild pitch allowed Newsom and Newton to advance into scoring position, but Ana Parker Davis and Kamryn Otts hit pop-ups to record the first two outs of the inning.
With two outs on the book, Lofton came to the plate and once again proved to be just what the doctor ordered as she stroked a hard base hit that scored both, Newton and Newsom for a 4-0 Lady Colts' lead.
Vickers struck out the first two batters in the top of the fifth and after a single from Leake, she got the next batter to fly out to end that frame.
In the bottom half, Bayou led off with Carley Peden who stroked a double and Chrissy Tubbs followed with a base hit.
With Vickers at the plate, Leake's coach called a timeout and with the time limit expiring, the game was called and Bayou had become State Champions.
For the Lady Colts it was their first time in the Class-AA playoffs since 2003 when they won the north state, but were eliminated early. In 2002 the Lady Colts finished third in the state tournament.
"The transition into Class-AA wasn't that hard for us because we play teams like this all the time,” LaSuzzo said. “All those years in single-A, we played triple-A and double-A teams. Being able to move up in our first year and win state says a lot about our girls and how hard they are driven to win. They sacrifice a lot to be the last team standing.”