Lady Gators and Spartans fall short of title game
Sulphur became west Ascension on Saturday as all three of the parish's 5A powers made it to the state semifinals.
Unfortunately, there was only two spots available for the championship game on Saturday night. Dutchtown made it through to play Sam Houston, but St. Amant and East Ascension both fell just two wins short of claiming a state title.
The Lady Gators' season ended up mirroring Kentucky basketball's 2015 in many ways.
They headed into the postseason as the top seed as the Wildcats had and they entered the semifinals with a perfect record--just like Kentucky had done back in March.
But like the Wildcats, the Lady Gators' undefeated streak and quest for a championship came to a painful end as they lost in the semifinals.
Most of the season came easy to St. Amant. Before heading to Sulphur, they had won all but four of their games by at least five runs. They won their first two playoff games by a combined margin of 22-4.
But in Sulphur, the Lady Gators encountered some stiff competition. In the quarterfinal matchup with Denham Springs, they had to come back from 2-1 down in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Kara Gremillion showed why her head coach Scott Nielson always refers to her as "money." She came through with an RBI single to tie the game and send it to an extra inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, McKenzie King got on, and Jadyn Rumfellow and Gremillion walked to load the bases for Taylor Tidwell.
Tidwell then became the hero as she drove in the walk-off RBI single to win the game for St. Amant, 3-2.
Tidwell went 3-5 in the win, and Gremillion went 3-4.
The exhilarating victory put the Lady Gators through to the semifinals, but they couldn't get past eventual champion Sam Houston.
St. Amant fell down 3-0, and that deficit carried over to the bottom of the seventh inning.
They fought for their playoff lives as Kara Gremillion reached base with a double and was then sent home with a single by her sister Kourtney.
However, a double play by the Sam Houston defense thwarted St. Amant's comeback attempt and ended their season with the 3-1 loss.
Kourtney Gremillion went 3-4 with an RBI while sister Kara went 3-4 with two walks.
The defeat was the first of Gabby Sharp's career as a starting pitcher. It also put the Lady Gators' record at 27-1.
East Ascension was thoroughly impressive heading into Sulphur. They cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs--winning by a combined margin of 18-1.
In the quarterfinals, they continued to cruise against Zachary--a team they had beaten, 5-1, earlier in the year.
The Lady Spartans surged to a 4-1 lead before the Lady Broncos chipped away at the deficit and tied it up in the top of the seventh--forcing extra innings.
From there, no team was able to score until the bottom of the 10th.
That's when LSU commit Claire Wenberger came through with a walkoff RBI single that scored Callie Sholmire and won the game, 5-4.
Jessie Watts collected the win from the circle and went 2-5 with an RBI from the plate. Verlencia Jackson went 2-3 with two walks.
It set up an all-Ascension showdown with Dutchtown in the semifinal game.
The Lady Spartans had beaten Dutchtown both times they had played them during the regular season, but things changed on Saturday.
Though, early on, it looked like history would repeat itself as they took a 2-0 lead in the first, but those runs proved to be their only scores of the game.
East Ascension was just two innings away from the title game when Dutchtown made their run in the top of the sixth.
Bria White came up with an RBI double to drive in Baylee Bourgeois to cut the deficit to 2-1.
And in the top of the seventh, the Lady Griffins had a huge three-run inning that gave them their first lead of the game. Katie Cloud had the two clutch RBIs to put them ahead.
East Ascension headed into the bottom of the seventh down 4-2. Weinberger reached base, but no one could drive her home--forcing the Lady Spartans to have their season come to a close at 23-8.
Weinberger went 3-4 while MacKenzie Andrews went 2-4 with an RBI
Though it makes two straight years of heartbreaking losses in Sulphur, the Spartans have plenty to look forward to next year. They only lose one senior starter in Jordan Langlois--which should make them one of the favorites for the state championship in 2016.