Merryville, Rosepine pick up where they left off

Rodrick Anderson

Merryville and Rosepine had their sights on the state softball tournament last year, before the coronavirus pandemic spoiled the party.

But it was only a temporary delay.

Led by first-year head coach Jena-Renee Vizena, who played on DeRidder’s 2013 quarterfinal team, No. 3 Merryville (18-5) will play perennial power No. 2 LaSalle at 11 a.m. today on Field 14 in a Class 1A semifinal in the Panthers’ first appearance at North Frasch Park in Sulphur in 16 seasons.

“I remember as a little girl watching teams (at the state tournament),” Vizena said. “It is an amazing feeling taking these girls back to the (state) tournament.

“I was able to go to the tournament as a senior in high school. I am grateful they are able to experience it.”

Elsewhere

No. 3 Rosepine (28-3) will face a familiar foe in No. 2 Doyle (28-5) at 3 p.m. Friday on Field 14 in the Class 2A semifinals. The Tigers knocked out the Eagles in the 2019 semifinals on the way to winning a state championship.

“Since the first day of practice and in the weight room, they have had one goal, and that goal was to get back to Sulphur.” Rosepine head coach Glenn Granger said. “We have accomplished that goal, and our next goal is to win it. We are going to do our best.”

LaSalle made three consecutive appearances in the finals from 2017 to 2019, winning it all in 2017.

“I am expecting them to be aggressive at the plate,” Vizena said. “We have prepared our pitcher and infielders to be ready for them to come out swinging on the first pitch.

“We are going to have to jump on them early and get our bats alive.

“Our intensity in the Oberlin game was through the roof. If we take that into the semifinals, there should be no question about it.”

Merryville is led by junior pitcher Riley Dyson (18-5, 3.82 ERA, 124 K’s), senior shortstop Alyssa Duncan and right fielder Shylee Lott (.426, 11 RBIs), an eighth-grader. Duncan (.541, 28 RBIs) is a speedster on the bases with 26 stolen bases. Dyson (.507, 44 RBIs) is one of the area’s top home run hitters with 12.

Rosepine is led by four seniors on pitcher Chloe Bennet, first baseman Calyn Brister, right fielder Ashlyn Smith, and infielder Kynadee Delome. Bennet pitched nine consecutive shutouts while leading the Eagles on their current 11-game win streak. Brister has hit 13 home runs, including two in the playoffs while batting .545 with 59 RBIs and 48 runs scored.

“I am real pleased with the leadership and Chloe, and K.K. (Brister) has administered to the younger girls as well as my other seniors Ashlyn Smith and Kynadee Delome,” Granger said. “I have had some very good seniors over the years. They have done a great job on the field and off the field.”

Granger said the formula for success is simple: play mistake-free.

“It is like anything else, who is going to make the less mistakes,” Granger said. “The one year I think we really had a chance to win it, the wind was so bad, and we made some errors on routine fly balls and, of course, Mangham ended up beating us 7-5.”””Prep softball

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