During her long career on Broadacres Boulevard Evangel senior Carolina Sanchez has surpassed a lot of milestones and won a ton of games. But until Good Friday afternoon, the Louisiana Tech-signee had never achieved perfection.
That landmark achievement came in the opening round of the LHSAA Class 3A state playoffs when Sanchez struck out 15 Patterson players in the Lady Eagles’ 8-0 win over the Lumber Jills to advance to the 3A regional round. The eighth-seeded Lady Eagles (21-9) will play Tuesday’s winner between ninth-seeded St. Louis and 24-seeded Erath.
“I felt like if she had been pitching against the Yankees today they would have had trouble hitting her,” Patterson coach Coby Minton said with a shrug. “She had command of all her pitches and that set the tone early. She did what she had to do and we just couldn’t put the ball in play enough to make a difference.”
The Lady Eagles didn’t exactly blister the ball, but they scattered seven hits and took advantage of six walks and three Patterson (14-9) errors. Sanchez and Olivia Sessions picked up two hits apiece, while Emily Deramus, Kayla Calhoun and Whitney Usie added one each.
“We executed when we asked people to bunt and used a lot of small ball today,” said Evangel coach Meghan Fisher, who won her first playoff game as a head coach. “Our pitch selection needs to be better, but we’re glad to get the win and move on.”
The Lady Eagles were the only area playoff team playing on Friday. Byrd will take center stage on Monday with a 4:30 p.m. game at home against Ponchatoula, then a host of teams follow on Tuesday.
Evangel picked up one run in the first when Deramus, who reached on a bunt single, scored on a double steal with Blakely Cangemi, running for Sanchez. Two more runs were added in the third when Sanchez and Sessions offered back-to-back singles after a Deramus walk. A bases loaded walk to Kayla Calhoun forced in one run and a Patterson error allowed the other.
The big inning came in the fourth when Blaire Buckman and Leanna Cooper reached on a walk and an error, then scored on a double by Sanchez. Sessions and Calhoun followed with singles allowing Evangel to go in front 8-0.
Sanchez was all smiles following the contest, while chewing gum that she worked harder as the game wore on.
“People were coming up to me during the game saying, ‘you know you’re throwing perfect game, don’t you,’ but I tried to just focus on the game and not let that be a distraction,” Sanchez said. “But it’s an amazing feeling. My change-up worked one time when I really needed it to and my curve ball was working well. I threw a lot of drop balls that did well for me.”
Despite the loss, Minton said he was proud of the effort of his team.
“I commend them because they could have laid down when we fell behind 8-0 but they kept competing,” he said. “That’s a tribute to the leadership I have from my three seniors.”