Drama erupted on Tuesday afternoon at the Calvary softball complex where there wasn’t supposed to be any drama. No. 1 seeds versus No. 32 seeds usually generate about as much theatrics as watching milk curdle.
But a feisty bunch of Sterlington Lady Panthers gave top-seeded Calvary a lesson in humility before succumbing 3-2 on a near-perfect afternoon for LHSAA Class 2A playoff softball. The Lady Cavs advanced thanks to Jordan Fielder’s deep fly ball that scored Maggie Woodle, who was running for Morgan Ann Collins, who had led off the seventh with a single.
Calvary coach Tiffany Bruton figured on a close game before the opening pitch due to the quality schedule played by the Lady Panthers.
“There may not have been a better No. 1 versus No. 32 game in the state,” Bruton said. “This game is going to help us down the line because this was a good team. We grew a lot in this game and now we just have to finish strong.”
Calvary (27-4) will host No. 17 Catholic-New Iberia (15-9), a 6-1 winner against Pickering, probably on Saturday.
Starting six freshmen after what Sterlington coach Jack Goode called a year of struggles, the Lady Panthers were on the verge of pulling off the upset of the tournament after tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh. Tanner Wilson singled to lead off the frame and scored when Hannah Harrell was hit with the bases loaded.
“We had nothing to lose and we told the girls to leave it all on the field,” Goode said. “We knew if we could pull off the win today, it would erase all of the negatives from the season. We knew we could beat them, but there were a few mistakes we made here and there.”
Calvary pitcher Sarah Chamberlain wasn’t as dominating as she has been, but she kept digging herself out of trouble. She finished four innings with a strikeout. The visitors got the leadoff batter on in six of the seven innings and stranded 12 base runners, including three in the seventh.
“It was a struggle,” Chamberlain admitted. “I threw inside a lot and hoped it worked. They may have been a 32-seed, but we knew they would be good. I’ve played travel ball with some of them.”
Fielder didn’t record a hit on the night but had a sacrifice bunt in the fifth to plate Marissa Reed with the go-ahead run. Her blast in the seventh nearly sailed over the head of right fielder Jada Smith and allowed Woodle to score easily from third.
“Coach told me to hit the first good pitch I saw,” said Fielder, who took a called first strike. “I was trying to get my timing. It felt solid when I hit it. I was just trying to get it far enough out there to get the run in.”
As the Lady Cavs stood on the field, celebrating the difficult victory, Collins heard her name called from the press box. Logan Ray asked the senior to the prom. Collins smiled and gave Ray a thumbs up.