Bucs finish the job, hurt of ’19 pushes Barbe to state title

Warren Arceneaux

SULPHUR — Barbe finished the job this time, winning its first state championship since 1997 with a 3-1 win over Airline Saturday in the Class 5A championship game at the state softball tournament.

The Bucs (31-2), who finished as runner-up in the most recent state tournament played in 2019, scored all its runs on fourth-inning home runs.

Trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth, Barbe rallied with Nyjah Fontenot hitting an opposite-field home run to left-center field to lead off the inning. Alana Mark doubled with one out. After a pop-up for the second out, Madison Chretien launched a long fly ball to left field that cleared the fence, putting the Bucs up 3-1.

Chretien, who later doubled, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

“After my first at-bat (a groundout) I knew my team would have my back and I would get another opportunity,” Chretien said. “I knew as soon as I hit (the home run) that it was gone. I can’t explain what I was feeling because it was for the team.

“I’m so excited because this is something we talked about all season, giving back to our community after the hurricanes and COVID. This is what we needed.”

Bucs ace Halie Pappion made the lead stand up, limiting the Vikings (20-6) to two hits over the final three innings.

Airline took the lead with a two-out rally in the top of the third. Elena Heng doubled to left-center and scored on a Paris Endris single to center.

The Vikings threatened again in the fourth inning, getting the first two runners on, but Pappion escaped the jam with a grounder, strikeout and pop-up to end the inning.

In the sixth, Airline had runners on first and second with one out, but Pappion forced a fly ball for the second out and got a strikeout to end the inning.

She threw a complete game, allowing six hits while striking out nine.

“I was just trying to get ahead of the batters and stay on top of everyone,” Papillon said. “I was thinking about my team the whole time. I knew they had my back and I had to have theirs.

“It is surreal. It hurt so much losing in 2019, we weren’t going to let that happen again. Even when we went down 1-0, I always knew we were going to win. This team always has my back.”

Mark and Chretien had two hits each to lead Barbe. Airline pitcher Raelin Chaffin, an LSU signee, struck our four and allowed five hits.

Barbe head coach Candyce Carter said the win was emblematic of the Bucs’ season, with Pappion dominating and Chretien stepping up to lead the offense.

“Halie was doing what she always does, pounding the strike zone, getting ahead in counts, believing in herself,” she said. “(Chretien’s home run) was huge. I have said all year, this team does a great job of passing the bat. If one doesn’t step up, another will, and today was Chretien’s day. It is unbelievable. I am so proud of this team.”””

Barbe celebrates after beating Airline in the Class 5A championship game Saturday at North Frasch Park in Sulphur. The Bucs, five-time state champions, were state runners-up in 2019.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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