LSU signee Sydney Bourg of Northshore High School went 3-for-3 with two doubles to lead the East to a 3-1 victory over the West in the first game of a two-day doubleheader in the LHSCA All-Star Softball Game at Louisiana College’s Coca Cola Field Friday evening.
The two teams will play again today at the Lady Wildcats’ home softball field at 1 p.m.
Bourg’s leadoff double in the bottom of the third, her second hit of the game, triggered a three-run inning, and with stellar pitching from starter Mikayla Brown of Buckeye and reliever Katherine Lee of Ouachita, that was all the runs the East needed to claim the victory.
“These are a great group of athletes, and they are fun to coach,” said Felicia Hayley of Jena, who was scheduled to be an assistant to Riverside’s Kristy Hebert but was promoted to head coach when Hebert had to pull out for personal reasons. “They’re very aggressive and very smart on the bases. We converted at the right time, I guess.”
Bourg, the daughter of Northshore football coach Mike Bourg, singled to left in the first inning, when the East stranded two runners without scoring a run. She led off the third with a double to deep right center, advanced to third on an error and scored on an infield hit by Lee.
Brown, who reached on a fielding error as the second batter of the inning, and Lee both scored on a two-out single up the middle by St. Amant’s Ali Delany, who’s headed to Northwest Florida State College.
Brown remembered her strikeout in her first at-bat in the previous inning.
“When I was going up for my second at-bat,” said Delany, “I said to myself, I can’t let that happen again because there are runners on base who need to be scored. I was just trying to play my hardest and show people I deserved to be here.”
Brown, meanwhile, shook off a sluggish start on the mound, when she walked two of the first four batters she faced, and pitched a one-hitter with three strikeouts through four innings before giving way to Lee.
“At first I was nervous,” said Brown, a Northwestern State signee and the All-Cenla Softball Player of the Year the last two years. “But then I told myself, I’m here for a reason, and I settled down and got my mind right.”
Brown retired the side in order in the second inning, which included sending Leesville’s Karsen Kreps to the dugout for the second out of the inning on a third strike looking. With a runner at second and one out in the third, she struck out Carlie Comeaux of Brusly and coaxed Hahnville’s Taylor Hogan into an inning-ending ground-out.
After giving up a two-out double to Northwood-Shreveport’s Jenna Blythe in the fourth and walking Kreps, she induced New Iberia’s Sydney LaBiche into an inning-ending ground-out.
“It was an amazing experience to be playing with the top players from Louisiana, and knowing I’m one was a privilege,” said Brown.
LC commitment Savannah Settle of Natchitoches Central pitched the first four innings for the West and gave up three runs (but just one earned run) on five hits and struck out three.
The West didn’t score until the seventh inning, when Tristan Harvey of Anacoco reached on an error to lead off the inning and scored with two outs on a single to left by Shelby Strickland of St. John.
Strickland was put out at the plate, snuffing the West’s comeback chances, trying to score on a double to left by Kassidy Harris of North Caddo.
Lee, in relief of Brown, gave up one run on three hits in three innings while striking out three and walking three.
“I thought our pitching was very good tonight,” said Hailey.
Bourg got to bat again in the bottom of the seventh, per the All-Star Game rules to allow both teams to have the same number of innings to bat, and stroked a double off a pitch by West reliever Abigail Leonards of Iota.
“I was happy I hit the way I did, especially in a game as big as this,” said Bourg, the picture of efficient energy throughout the contest.
“I’ve always played hard,” she said. “Playing hard comes easy for me.”