WALKER – Savanah Stafford got the scoring started against Denham Springs High on Tuesday and she ended it, too.
Stafford’s RBI single in the bottom of the 9th inning lifted Walker to an 11-10 win in District 4-5A action.
"A very big night," said Stafford, who had a two-run double in the 1st inning to get the scoring started for the Lady Cats. "I kind of figured what was going to be thrown and tried to take advantage of what opportunities were given to me. The pressure was on, but that's when you have to push through, so I think I did what was needed."
The postgame mood was a bit different for Walker coach Hali Westmoreland Fletcher, who put her team through fielding drills after last week's loss to Springfield. She hopes the win over Denham will give her team a boost.
"This past weekend (in the St. Amant Tournament), they kind of realized that our record doesn't indicate the caliber of softball that we're capable of playing. We played some really good teams this weekend and they proved to themselves that they can do it," she said.
"At the end of the day, they have to believe in themselves, and I think they're finally realizing that – all of them."
The Lady Cats missed chances to score the game-winning run in the 7th and 8th innings, but cashed in on their chances in the 9th when Kassy Guidry singled past Yellow Jackets second baseman Madilynn Bulot’s diving effort. Laynie Jones moved her over and Alayna Adams was intentionally walked for the second time in the game.
Haleigh Pourciau dropped a single just inside the foul line in left field, but it wasn't deep enough to score a run. That paved the way for Stafford, who launched a hit to the gap in left-center field to score the winning run.
"We've been really focusing on our weaknesses and being able to adjust to pitches that we're not comfortable with, so now we have a wider range of what pitches we can and cannot hit,” Stafford said. “So we go to bat, know what we need to hit, and we adjust to hit the ball."
Westmoreland Fletcher said the game-winning hit was a perfect reward for Stafford.
"I preach to them hard work will pay off, and she's one of the main ones," Westmoreland Fletcher said. "She didn't get any varsity playing time last year and she has proven herself that she needs to be out there."
DSHS coach Leslie Efferson-Yellott mulled missed scoring chances for her team.
"Plenty of opportunities," she said. "We just didn't execute when we needed to. We hit a lot of pop-ups. Too many pop-ups and not enough adjustments at the plate.
"When they play together and they play with confidence, they're brilliant. When they doubt themselves at the plate, when they don't think a play ahead on defense, this is what you get. It's the game. It changes on a dime."
The Lady Cats had a chance to win the game in their original final at-bat.
Shea Covington walked to lead off the bottom of the 7th inning and moved to third base on a pair of sacrifice bunts. Adams came up to bat, but she was intentionally walked in the middle of her at-bat to bring up Pourciau, who struck out looking to end the inning.
An inning later, Walker got consecutive one-out walks to Kailey Chachere and Mackenzie Spangler, but Brennan Jones popped out to first base. Denham’s Paige Luquette made a diving catch near the foul line in left field to rob Covington of a hit for the third out.
The Yellow Jackets battled back from a 6-0 deficit as Madison Menard’s bases-loaded, two-out fly ball was misplayed in the outfield, scoring two runs to trim the lead to 10-9.
Natalie Parker’s sacrifice fly RBI with two out in the top of the 7th tied things up at 10-10.
After DSHS cut the lead to 6-5 in the top of the 5th, Walker collected four runs on six hits in the bottom of the inning. Brennan Jones, Covington, Guidry and Laynie Jones got four straight hits to put the Lady Cats ahead 10-5.
Denham (7-6, 1-1 district) got a pair of runners on base on consecutive errors to lead off the top of the 6th, and Parker drove both runs in on a single to make the score 10-7.
Walker (4-11, 1-0 district) padded a 3-0 lead with three runs on five hits in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Guidry had a two-run single past third base and Laynie Jones’ RBI single pushed the lead to 6-0.
"We walked too many people," Efferson-Yellott said. "We got behind in the count on too many batters and then there were a lot of counts when we were ahead in the count and we threw pitches that were very hittable. It's not really a good combination when you're a pitcher or a pitching staff."
The Jackets got on the board in a big way as Rayne Minor reached on error, stole second and third and scored on Luquette’s single. DSHS added another run on an error, setting up Karlie Galloway’s three-run home run to center field to make the score 6-5.
"That was a curveball," Galloway said. "I just went with it and stayed level. I've been struggling, but my team has my back always."
The Lady Cats scored first on Stafford’s two-out, two-run double into the gap in center field. Chachere reached on an error at shortstop to make the score 3-0.
Mary Hughes picked up the win in relief of Pourciau. Parker took the loss after starting the game and coming back into the circle with one out in the bottom of the 8th.
WALKER 11, DSHS 10 (9)
DSHS 000 054 100 -- 10 13 3
Walker 330 040 001 -- 11 16 6
Natalie Parker, Layne Miley (2), Melody Lienemann (5), Parker (8) and Karlie Galloway, Zoie Sedberry (3); Haleigh Pourciau, Mary Hughes (6) and Kailey Chachere. W – Hughes. L – Parker. 2B: Walker – Savanah Stafford; DSHS – Madison Menard. HR: -- DSHS Galloway. Records: DSHS 7-6, 1-1 District 4-5A; Walker 4-11, 1-0. Up next: Live Oak at DSHS, 5 p.m. Thursday; Zachary at Walker, 5 p.m. Thursday.