SULPHUR – North Webster’s Jordan Griffin was honored as a member of the All-State Composite All-Academic team before the Lady Knights launched their semifinal contest against defending state champion and top-seeded John Curtis on Saturday morning.
But Griffin’s honor and her 4.0 grade point average were one of the few highlights for coach Tony Mullins, who was making his first coaching appearance in the Fastpitch 56 state softball tournament in 30-plus years of coaching.
Following his team’s 11-0 dismantling by the District 10-2A champs, Mullins stationed himself in the median between two fields accepting hand-written notes from parents who wanted to take their student-athletes back to Springhill with them. Mullins had a lot of notes, while surrounded by some weeping seniors.
“We played an outstanding team. They hit well and I can see why they’re ranked nationally,” Mullins said. “We tried to give’em a good run. We just couldn’t keep up with them.”
The Lady Patriots (29-1) started the contest in slam-bam fashion, launching two home runs out of field No. 15 not long after the opening prayer and National Anthem. Katie Brignac, who pitched John Curtis to playoff wins against Calvary and Evangel last spring, nailed the first and Rebecca Dill followed two batters later. The Lady Patriots (27-6) posted five runs in the opening frame, more than enough for Peyton Picniolo. The sophomore would give up just one hit, a Cassie Thomas single leading off the game, and allowed just one other base runner in the run-rule-shortened contest. She struck out 10 while giving up a walk to Brooke Foster.
Smeared eye glare streamed down the faces of North Webster seniors Alexis Kerry, Foster and Griffin, who finished their careers as some of the few remaining players remembering the school’s consolidation. Mullins took the loss in stride and vowed not to make the team’s first trip, its last.
“We’ve come a long way — finishing 27-6 is good for us,” Mullins said. “And we look forward to coming back again.”
Florien 5, Grace Christian 4
After surrendering a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth, Florien got hits from Adriana Phillips, Caroline Matthews, Whitney Byles, Haylee Tidwell and Caitlyn Corley in the seventh to get the semifinal win.
Lady Blackcats sophomore Abbey McMillian picked up the win after striking out 10 and allowing just three hits. Four Florien errors allowed Grace Christian to stay in the game.
Florien (25-4) played for the Class B title later on Saturday.