Such was the case for the Bayou Academy Lady Colts, who had to fight out of the loser’s bracket Monday and win three games in a row to claim their seventh straight North A State Fast Pitch Softball Championship.
The Lady Colts, 30-10 overall, played tremendous defense through out the tournament, but it was in the final game of the day where they finally combined their defense with good hitting to pound the Tri-County Lady Rebels 18-3.
The Lady Colts started the day with a 1-0 loss to Tri-County. The loss put Bayou in the loser's bracket, which meant they had to play Benton Academy. The Colts were up to the challenge and defeated Benton 4-0.
With Tri-County in the championship without a loss, the Lady Colts would have to beat them twice and they did just that winning the first game 3-1 before blasting the Lady Rebels by 15 runs in six innings in the second game.
"We showed a lot of character and a lot of heart,” Lady Colts head coach Lauren LaSuzzo said. “You can't ask for anything more. They could have easily laid down and died and they didn't. They just dug deep and found it within themselves. Our pitching was great and our defense was great. We kept chipping away and it finally clicked. Hitting is contagious and it started going down the line up. I am extremely proud of them.”
The Lady Colts found themselves trailing Tri-County 1-0 in the second game, and it looked like things might repeat themselves from the early game that Bayou lost 1-0.
Fortunately for the Lady Colts in the top of the sixth, things came together as a lead-off base hit from Shelby Newsom sparked the Bayou bench. A ground out from Shelby Kendall allowed Newsom to advance to second. The next Bayou batter struck out for the second out of the inning. With two outs on the board and the tying run at second, Bayou's Ashley Vickers came to the plate and hit a ball that dropped in between second base and center field which allowed Newsom to score from second and tie the game at 1-1.
The Lady Colts’ defense was strong in the bottom of the sixth as they retired the side in order.
Bayou opened the seventh with a lead-off single from Kailyn Lofton. After a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Ann Bailey advanced Lofton to second, Carley Peden roped a single to right center to drive in Lofton for a 2-1 Bayou lead. Newsom followed Peden with a hard shot, but a Tri-County outfielder made a good play on the ball for the second out.
Kendall was the next batter and she made good contact with the ball and drove it through the infield. On the play, Peden went second and then was able to advance to third when the defender struggled to get the ball cleanly. The throw to third was wild, and Peden was abled to score as the ball got passed the third baseman for a 3-1 Bayou lead. Bayou's next batter resulted in an out to end the top of the frame.
Tri-County had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh. The first batter grounded out, but the next two batters hit singles to put runners on first and second. That would be the last of the threat as Bayou got the next two batters to fly-out and end the game.
In the last game, the Lady Colts came out smoking by scoring two runs in the first and six runs in the second for an 8-0 lead. Tri-County scored three runs in the bottom of the third, but that would be all the runs they could muster. Bayou, on the other hand, kept hitting and scoring runs. The Lady Colts scored four runs in the fifth for a 12-3 lead and added five more in the sixth for an 18-3 win.
Bayou will start play in the State A Tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday when they play Newton Academy at Liberty Park in Flowood.