The Lady Colts’ bid for a seventh consecutive state softball championship came up short as they lost to the Franklin Academy Lady Cougars 6-2 in a loser’s bracket game of the Class A State Fast Pitch Softball Championship Tournament. The Lady Colts finished their season at 31-12.
Bayou head softball coach Lauren LaSuzzo, who was an assistant coach when the run first began in 2006, has led Bayou to state championships as head coach in 2007, 2010 and 2011.
LaSuzzo was disappointed after Wednesday’s loss but was still happy with the team’s effort and the program’s accomplishments.
“I think that we’ve definitely made a name for ourselves,” LaSuzzo said. “I’m proud of the girls. If anything, this just fuels their fire. They know they have to come to play. I’ve been telling them all year, people will bring their A-game to play all the time. Now, they see what I’m talking about. I’m proud of the girls, but I wanted this so bad for them.”
Bayou fell into the loser’s bracket earlier in the morning by falling to Benton Academy 7-5 at Jackson Prep.
The defeat put Bayou in an elimination game with Franklin. During Bayou’s six-year run as state champions, the Lady Colts defeated the Lady Cougars in the state title game three times (2007, 2008 and 11).
Wednesday’s match-up was unusual for both teams as they had to fight off an early exit from the tournament as the Lady Colts and the Lady Cougars were both 1-1 in tournament action heading into the elimination game.
In the bottom of the second inning, Bayou appeared to be on its way to another win against Franklin. With the help of two sacrifice bunts, two errors and a hit batter, the Lady Colts were able to score two runs in the bottom of the second to take a 2-0 lead.
Bayou Academy pitcher Shelby Kendall pitched shutout softball over the first four innings with the defense making the plays behind her. In the top of the third with two outs, Sarah Haring hit a ground ball to second which forced Bayou second baseman Kailyn Lofton to go to the ground. From her knees, Loftin made a throw to first and first baseman Brantley Hutchinson made a nice stretch to get the third out of the inning to keep the score at 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Franklin had runners at second and third with one out, but Kendall pitched out of the jam by striking out a batter and getting the next batter to hit a ground out to help preserve the lead.
The Lady Cougars got another rally going in the top of the fifth as Mary Haring hit a lead-off double. After Kendall retired the next two batters, it appeared she would be out of the inning. The Lady Cougars, however, were able to get a run across as Mary scored on an infield single from Sarah. Sarah ended up at second on a throwing error to put another runner in scoring position. After Amber Easterling reached on an error by the third baseman, Bayou catcher Carley Peden threw Easterling out trying to steal second to end the game and keep the score at 2-1 in favor of Bayou.
In the top of the seventh, the Lady Cougars made another attempt to take the lead. This time, they wouldn’t be denied as they stroked five consecutive hits in the inning. During the rally, Easterling tagged a two-run single, and Robinson roped a two-run double. After Robinson scored on an error, the Lady Cougars finished with five runs in the frame to grab a 6-2 advantage.
The Lady Colts had one more chance to fight back as they loaded the bases with no outs, but one batter flew out to first with the next batter hitting into a double play to end the inning and the season.
“They played hard,” LaSuzzo said about her team. “They come to play all the time and things didn’t go in our favor today. We had chances to win the ball game. We got the bases loaded a couple of times and runners in scoring position but didn’t capitalize.”
Kendall, the team’s only senior, battled hard in the circle as she went the full seven innings. Kendall also laid down two sacrifice bunts at the plate.
Ana Parker Davis roped two hits to lead Bayou’s offense, followed by Shelby Newsom with a hit and a run scored.