Southwest Louisiana sends 32 teams to playoffs
After being shut out of the championship games last year, Southwest Louisiana softball coaches are hoping that experience in the circle will produce better results this postseason.
State playoff pairings were released Thursday with 32 area schools in the field.
Among the top contenders to bring home a title are Sam Houston, the No. 3 seed in Class 5A; DeRidder, the third seed in 4A and Kinder, the second seed in Class 2A. Each team reached the state tournament in Sulphur last season, and return a starting pitcher this year.
The Broncos are led by junior Jenny Griggers, who helped the Broncos go 26-3 in the regular season, including a win over Ouachita, the top seed in 5A, and a pair of wins over DeRidder.
Dragons pitcher Lauren Parson is one of the state’s top two-way players. She helped the Dragons reach the semifinal round last year. The Dragons offense is led by Kailey Lefrere, a first-time all-state selection last year, as was Parson.
Kinder features Sarah Gartman in the circle. She helped the Yellow Jackets to a 23-4 mark. Kinder won 11 games by shutout and allowed a single run in five other games.
Kinder head coach Skip Pickle said Gartman and his senior class have kept the Yellow Jackets on the right track all season.
“It is so beneficial to have experience at pitcher, especially in the postseason,” Pickle said. “They have been there before and know what it takes to advance.
“Sarah is a good leader for our team. She can move the ball in and out, up and down, and keeps the opposing players off balance. We have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen on the team, and our senior leadership has been great.”
Also looking for a return to Sulphur will be Rosepine, the No. 7 seed in 2A. The Eagles lost star pitcher Morghan LaTour from last season, but return slugger Haylee Brinlee, a McNeese State signee, at third base.
South Beauregard and Westlake are contenders in Class 3A, with the Golden Knights led by Jaclyn Deason, the school’s career home run leader. The Rams feature pitcher Myka Lester, a first-team all-state selection last season who excels at the plate.
In Class 1A, Merryville, South Cameron and Oberlin earned top-eight seeds, with the Panthers and Tarpons also receiving first-round byes.
St. Louis enters the playoffs as one of the area’s hottest teams having won its last six regular-season games behind fireballing pitcher Heather Derouen. The Saints are the No. 10 seed in Division II and will travel to face No. 7 De La Salle in the quarterfinals next week.
Highlighting the bi-district round schedule are a trio of all-area matchups, with Sulphur meeting Barbe in Class 5A, Iowa traveling to Iota in 3A and Lake Arthur playing Pickering in Class 2A.