LIVINGSTON – There was a point during the regular season that Doyle's softball team had figured out how to win close games late.
It didn’t come together for the Lady Tigers in Wednesday’s Class 2A quarterfinal game against Avoyelles Public Charter.
Avoyelles got a pair of doubles in the top of the eighth inning to pick up a 4-3 win over the Lady Tigers (24-7), ending Doyle’s opportunity to return to the state tournament and repeat as Class 2A state champions.
“You can’t let a team hang around that long,” Doyle coach Amanda Decell said after the game was moved to another field at Johnny Sartwell Park during the middle of Sydney Taylor’s at-bat with the game tied at 3-3, no outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the seventh after the breakers to the lights on the left side of the field kept tripping, causing them to go out. “We’ve done it too much this season, and we were fortunate enough to come back in those games, but against a team like that in a quarterfinal game, you can’t let them hang around that long. They’ll make you pay for it.”
The game was moved from Doyle's main game field at Johnny Sartwell Park in the middle of the seventh inning during the middle of Sydney Taylor’s at-bat with the game tied at 3-3, no outs and a runner on second after the breakers to the lights on the left side of the field kept tripping, causing them to go out.
Doyle’s Gabby Lucia reached base on an error and stole second with the game tied at 3-3. Taylor had a 1-2 count when Avoyelles coach Cora LaCombe called timeout to discuss the lighting situation with the umpiring crew and Decell, which led to the game being moved to another field.
Following a 10-minute delay to line the new field, Taylor’s at-bat resumed, and she eventually flied out to deep center field. Madison Diaville walked, Elise Jones flied out to left in foul territory and Marley Olivier popped out to short to end the inning.
“That was crazy,” Taylor said. “I’ve never in my life seen anything like that or been in anything like that. I was pretty upset because I felt like we had the momentum. I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but it did. I just wish we could have pulled through.”
“It kills our momentum, and we had to play in the top of the seventh like that (without lights on the left side of the field),” Decell said of switching fields. “I just felt like we should have had to finish the inning on the same field. That’s the way it goes. With no outs and a runner at second, we should have been able to score anyway.”
That paved the way for Avoyelles' winning rally.
Kennedy Dauzat led off the eighth inning with a double to left field, moved to third on Mallory Smith’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Madison Kelly’s double to center field for a 4-3 lead.
Doyle’s Chloe Welda motored into second base to lead off the bottom of the eighth when a hard-hit ball to shortstop bounced off Smith’s foot and into the outfield.
One out later, Rylee Lambert walked, and KK Savant singled to center. Decell held Welda held up at third on the play, leaving the bases loaded.
“I stopped her,” Decell said. “I thought the ball was short. I knew the outfielder had a good arm. The ball was short. I played it safe, and I should have let her go. That’s going to eat me up for a very long time. It just ties the game. I don’t know if we win it there, but it builds momentum, and I should have let her go.”
From there, Lucia popped out to short, and Taylor popped out to Avoyelles pitcher Madison Kelly to end the game.
“I was just hoping I would hit something on the ground that could give us a chance to score,” Taylor said.
Doyle grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third as Savant got a one-out single, Taylor had a two-out double to the left field wall for a 1-0 lead and scored on Diaville’s hit.
“I don’t know what was going on the first time (through the lineup), but we all kind of struggled,” said Taylor, who had two hits along with Savant and Diaville. “Once we saw her once, it seemed like we kind of got it figured out and started hitting the ball better.”
Avoyelles Charter stranded seven runners over the first four innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth. Doyle stranded a pair in the bottom of the fourth before the Lady Vikings broke through.
Kelly had a leadoff double, and Bianca Redmon bunted back to Olivier, who attempted to go to third then looked back to first, where Redmon was safe. Katlin Johnson grounded to Lambert, who threw to third. All the runners were safe, leaving the bases loaded.
Gabrielle Priester’s fly ball to right field was dropped, cutting the lead to 2-1. Chloe Dauzat flied out to center, and Redmon was thrown out at the plate before Camryn Mayeux flied out to center to end the inning.
“Defense and pitching carries us every game,” Decell said. “Yeah, we had a few errors, but we were able to get out of each inning pretty well. The hitting needed to be better. They out-hit us big time, and we needed to be better at the plate.”
Doyle went ahead 3-1 in the fifth as Taylor had a one-out double, Diaville singled and moved to second on the throw, and Jones reached on an error, scoring a run.
Avoyelles Charter got singles from Kennedy Dauzat, Smith and Redmon in the top of the fifth to knot the score at 3-3.
Olivier gave up 12 hits, four runs, one walk and struck out one in eight innings for the loss.
“I was just trying to hit my spots and get outs,” Olivier said. “They hit well, got people on base and scored more runs.”
Kelly gave up eight hits, three runs, three walks and struck out four in eight innings to get the win.
“They still had a successful year,” Decell said of her team. “The hitting just never got to where it needed to be. It just never did. We hoped that the first two rounds (of the playoffs) would be momentum builders, but it still wasn’t there. I just hope that they remember this feeling. That’s what I told them – remember this feeling. Don’t forget it. Next year, remember it the whole season, and don’t let it happen again.”
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