Last Modified: Saturday, April 06, 2013 6:15 PM
Softball’s regular season concludes this week with the state championship tournament in Sulphur a mere three weeks away.
Locally, the tournament should have a familiar look with Southwest Louisiana’s pair of two-time defending champions, Sam Houston and Hackberry, looking like good bets to make it back.
The Broncos have gotten a big boost with the return of Baylee Corbello to the pitching circle. The reigning Miss Softball had been limited to hitting for most of the season while recovering from injury, but showed she regained her form with a dominating performance against traditional power Teurlings Catholic on Friday, throwing an eight-inning complete game and striking out 17 batters in Sam Houston’s 2-1 win.
It was a big win for the Sam Houston, whose power ranking will be artificially low entering the playoffs due to a series of nondistrict losses incurred while Corbello was unable to pitch. The Broncos are 13-9 as a result of the difficult non-district schedule, but does not reflect the quality of the team.
Thankfully for the Broncos, freshman Tanner Wright dominated District 3-5A foes, allowing the Broncos to win the district outright. The lower power ranking may give the Broncos a higher degree of difficulty in making a return trip to Sulphur, but an in-form Corbello is capable of getting the Broncos back. In her first three seasons, Corbello is 14-1 in the postseason, pitching the Broncos into three consecutive championship games and winning the past two 5A championships.
The Broncos have fiHTMLve returning starters with championship experience. They won’t be fazed by the big-game settings and will have confidence taking the field behind the state’s top pitcher.
Hackberry is in a similar situation with pitcher Jolie Trahan in the circle. The Mustangs also return the core of their lineup, including first-team all staters Sami Little and Mattie Stine. Hackberry has been dominant throughout the season, rolling to a 13-3 record, including 10 wins in their last 11 games. The lone loss in that span was a 1-0 defeat to Sam Houston, and the two earlier losses were to 1A teams South Cameron and Oak Hill. The Mustangs sit atop the Class C power rankings and should be the favorite to claim another title.
Grand Lake was upset in the regional round of the Class B playoffs last season but has rebounded with another strong season. The Hornets are 12-5 and second in the power rankings. The Hornets play only two district games but have played good competition and has quality wins over Oberlin, Merryville, Hackberry and Anacoco. The Hornets should be able to return to Sulphur, which would be their seventh appearance since 2005.
In Class 2A, tournament regulars Rosepine and DeQuincy are both in the top eight in the power rankings, while Class 4A could produce a pair of relatively new faces with DeRidder and St. Louis having strong seasons. The Dragons have never advanced beyond the regional round while St. Louis last made it to Sulphur in 2008.
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Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at email@example.com