Area softball squads eye run for state titles

Pairings will be announced for the softball playoffs on Thursday, with several teams in position to compete for a state title. Last year, no local team made it past the semifinal round.

Here is a look at the area’s chances in each class:

Class 5A: Sam Houston annually ranks among the state’s best teams and this year is no exception. The Broncos have an ace in the circle in Jenny Griggers, a deep lineup led by on-base machine Maddie Pourciaux and tons of momentum heading into the playoffs, entering the week with a 25-2 record and 12-game winning streak. The Broncos are currently second in the power ratings and own a win over top-seeded Ouachita. They should be able to improve on last year’s quarterfinal finish.

Barbe is currently 15th in the power ratings, which would set up a clash with Sam Houston in the second round, with the winner advancing to the state tournament. Barbe sprung the upset in that scenario in 2016, winning a playoff game in Moss Bluff. This year’s team can score runs in bunches, but have been erratic in keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Relying solely on offense to win games is not a recipe for success in Class 5A, where the top teams usually feature a standout pitcher and sound defense.

The Bucs will be a threat in any game due to sluggers like Kylie Bergeron, Jennifer Perkins and Lexie Hesser, but will need to shore up its run prevention in order to compete with the best teams in 5A. In each of the last nine Bucs losses, opponents have scored 10 runs or more. Last year, none of the eight second round winners allowed more than three runs, and only two allowed more than one.

Sulphur is in line for a return to the postseason, and could face Barbe in the first round. Like the Bucs, the Tors are prolific offensively, led by Chesni Jones and Abbi Massey. The Tors have played well in the second half of the season, with wins over Acadiana, Barbe and Iota. The Tors have won four straight heading into Monday’s game at Lafayette.

Class 4A: DeRidder will be looking for a return trip to Sulphur after reaching the semifinals last year. The Dragosn win District 3-4A, which features four teams in the top 14 of the power ratings. The Dragons also have quality nondistrict wins over Kinder, Westlake and Rosepine. They are currently third in the 4A power ratings and hold opponents to about 4 runs per game. Current projections would have the Dragons facing West Ouachita in the semifinals. The teams met last month at the Sulphur tournament, with the Dragons losing 8-5. 

Class 3A: South Beauregard and Westlake have both had impressive regular seasons, but 3A is deep. So much so that South Beauregard is 22-1 and only eighth in the power ratings. Westlake is at 12th, and would likely have to win a road game in the second round to reach the state tournament. That’s not out of the question as the Rams have a star pitcher in Myka Lester and a lineup that features both speed and power.

St. Louis also faces a tough road in the Division II playoffs, with a long trip to New Orleans in the second round likely. However, the Saints are rolling, having won five straight heading into a Monday showdown in Westlake.

Class 2A: Kinder and Rosepine are regulars at Sulphur and both are in line for a return this year, with the Yellow Jackets second in the power ratings and Rosepine seventh. Kinder has a standout pitcher in Sarah Gartman and a formidable lineup led by Kate Trahan. The Eagles are led by slugger Haylee Brinlee, a McNeese signee.

Class 1A: Meryville, South Cameron and Oberlin are all in the top eight of the power ratings, with the Panthers leading the way at fifth. Oberlin, despite a 9-15 overall record, swept Merryville and split with South Cameron in District 4-1A play.

Classes B and C: In B, Fairview and Bell City are seeded seventh and eighth. Finally having a full district schedule should help the Bruins, who have won 12 of their last 13, with the one loss a shootout with Class 3A Iowa.

In Class C, no area school is seeded in the top eight, though Starks (9th) and Hackberry (12th) could have winnable second round games.

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