LIVINGSTON – It was a bit difficult to tell the winners from the losers at the conclusion of Wednesday’s District 10-2A game between French Settlement and Doyle.
It came down to Doyle putting together some timely hitting a catching a few late breaks before Gabby Lucia’s single knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 5-4 Doyle win at Johnny Sartwell Park.
“French Settlement gets a lot of credit for this game,” Doyle coach Amanda Decell said after her team put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings. “They really put it on us, and I’m glad we saw that. I’m glad the pressure was put on us. They did a very good job at the plate, and we didn’t handle it very well, and that is something that we’re going to have to work on before the playoffs.”
On the other side, FSHS coach Blake West was disappointed with the outcome but not his team’s effort after the Lady Lions led from the fourth inning until Doyle’s seventh-inning rally.
“To control the game; to really put a lot of pressure on them late, and to let it slip away, yeah, it stings a little bit,” West said. “I have to say I’m really pleased with our effort. I’m so pleased with how we played the first six innings of the game. I just felt like it wasn’t meant to be there at the end, and they did what they had to do to pull one out the bag and make a comeback and get us.”
Kylie Merrell got the winning rally started for the Lady Tigers (12-2, 2-0) with a single to left field to lead of the bottom of the eighth. Rylee Lambert’s sacrifice bunt moved courtesy runner Gracie Taylor to second, and KK Savant dropped a single inside the left field line and moved to second on the throw putting runners at second and third with one out.
That set the stage for Lucia, who singled past a diving Payton Clouatre at shortstop, scoring Taylor to end the game.
“I feel like our team really fought and took a big step, and we just came through, and it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Lucia, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run. “I did get what I was looking for, but … I was basically just smiling because I was so happy to be put in that situation and do what’s right for my team.
“We really did need a game like this. It showed us that we aren’t quite ready yet, and that we still have a lot that we need to work on.”
The winning rally was set up when Marley Olivier, who gave up seven hits, four runs (one earned), and struck out eight in a complete-game win, struck out the side in the top of the eighth.
“She did not have her best game, but she really pulled through at the end at the plate and on the mound,” Decell said of Olivier. “She plays with a lot of heart, and she gives us everything she has, and she really pumped us up that last inning.”
FSHS (4-8, 0-2) stranded runners at the corners in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for Doyle’s game-tying rally in the bottom of the inning.
Savant and Lucia led off with consecutive singles before Madison Diaville, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, got a two-out single to center field scoring one run. Lucia scored on the throw from the outfield, making the score 4-3.
Chloe Welda grounded to second base on a play that would have ended the game, but the throw to first sailed high, allowing Diaville score, tying the game. Olivier lined out to second to end the inning.
FSHS scored the game’s first run in the first inning after Clouatre led off with a single up the middle and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carmella Tranchina. Jackie Crosby’s grounder to Olivier scored the game’s first run.
Doyle, which stranded four runners over the first two innings, tied it at 1-1 in the third when Taylor drew a one-out walk and scored on Diaville’s two-out single to left field.
“I just didn’t feel that when we were put in pressure situations with runners on base that we were able to handle that,” Decell said. “We have time to work on it, but that is something that we’ve got better at. We have got to get the runs when they’re there for us.”
The Lady Lions re-claimed the led in the top of the fourth when Sarah Petite led off with a double down the third base line, moved to second on Claire Cullen’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Lucia’s throw to the plate was wide on a fielder’s field to shortstop.
FSHS padded the lead with a pair of unconventional runs in the top of the fifth as Clouatre got a one-out single to center and Crosby reached on a throwing error.
Clouatre moved to third on the play, rounded the bag and held up as the throw came to the plate. Crosby, however, was right behind Clouatre and almost to third. Crosby then broke back to second base, and the throw went from the plate to second in an attempt to get the out.
Clouatre, however, took off from third on the throw to second and scored as the Lady Tigers threw to the plate again hoping to get the out. The throw got away from the catcher on the play, and Crosby came around to score for a 4-1 lead.
“She’s a smart base-runner, so I was glad it was her on the bases,” Clouatre said of Crosby after going 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. “She didn’t get in a rundown, and we ended up both scoring. Our error turned into theirs.”
FSHS’ Britney Melton gave up 13 hits, five runs, two walks and struck out two in 7.1 innings to get the loss.
“I felt like Britney was on point,” West said. “I feel like she threw her best game of the season thus far. She’s been steadily improving, getting better and better each time out. She did a really good job hitting her spots, working her spin on the ball. Any time anything got hit hard, she did a really good job adjusting and doing what needed to be done to throw the right pitch at the right time and get what we needed to get out of it.”
Both teams are hoping to take some lessons from their meeting.
“They’re a good team, so I think we learned that, according to this game, we can beat anybody at any time,” Clouatre said. “I think this just tested our ability and showed us what we can do.”
DOYLE 15, ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 0, 3 INNINGS
The Lady Tigers scored five runs in the first three innings for the mercy-rule win as Olivier gave up two hits and struck out five for the win.
Elise Jones hit a home run for the Lady Tigers who had 12 hits, while Diaville was 2-for-3 with four RBIs and three runs.
DOYLE 12, SUMNER 1, 5 INNINGS
The Lady Tigers snapped a 1-1 tie with 11 runs over the final two innings.
Jones, Diaville and Olivier each had two hits for Doyle, which had 12 hits.
Olivier and Chloe Welda combined to strike out five.