Lady Gators headed to semifinals in Sulphur

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Julia Kramer went 2-3 in the Lady Gators' 13-1 quarterfinal victory over Ouachita Parish. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

After missing out on what has become an annual trip to the state tournament in Sulphur last season, the Lady Gators are now primed to make a return.

St. Amant cruised past West Monroe in the second round, and on Saturday, the Lady Gators crushed defending Class 5A champion Ouachita Parish, 13-1, in just five innings to get one step closer to winning their sixth state title.

With a team that bolstered seven first-time starters, St. Amant avenged last year’s second-round loss to West Monroe last Tuesday. They won comfortably, 7-3.

In their state quarterfinal matchup against fifth-seeded Ouachita Parish, the Lady Gators quickly took a lead. In the bottom of the first, Sophie Smith came up with an RBI single to put St. Amant ahead, 1-0.

That advantage lasted until the top of the third, when Ouachita’s Olivia Buckhalter doubled and eventually scored on a Lady Gator error.

Her score tied the game, but St. Amant had a prompt answer.

In the bottom of the inning, Kailey Dufour produced an RBI single of her own, and another Lady Gator run scored on a Ouachita Parish error to give them a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, St. Amant took command.

Dufour came up with another RBI single, Payton Granier had a sac fly and another Lady Gator run scored following a Ouachita Parish error. This flurry pushed their advantage to 6-1.

And in the fifth inning, St. Amant put the game away.

The Lady Gator bats caught fire. They had an amazing stretch of eight of their nine batters reaching base in the inning.

With the bases loaded, Granier crushed a grand slam that put them ahead, 13-1. Due to the game being in the fifth inning, it ended the contest by way of the mercy rule.

Granier finished with five RBIs for the game.

Also for St. Amant, Smith went a perfect 3-3 with two RBIs. Dufour drove in two runs as well.

Julia Kramer and Alyssa Romano each went 2-3.

From the circle, Romano put up another dominant showing. In five innings of work, she gave up just two hits. The run Ouachita Parish scored was unearned.

The victory improved St. Amant’s overall record to 26-2-1, and now, they’re headed to the state semifinals for the first time since 2015. That year, they were beaten by eventual champion Sam Houston.

The Lady Gators won’t be meeting top-seeded Sam Houston in the semifinals this time around. Instead, they’ll meet Walker, the team that upset the Lady Broncos in the previous round.

The eighth-seeded Lady Wildcats come into the contest with a 24-9 record, and much of their success in the playoffs has come as a result of superb pitching by Lainee Bailey.

Bailey has surrendered just five runs in three playoff games. In Walker’s 7-1 first-round victory over East Ascension, she held the Lady Spartans to one hit, and she struck out 10.

St. Amant and Walker have played once this season. They met back on March 11. The Lady Gators won that game by a score of 5-2.

Their semifinal matchup will take place at Frasch Park in Sulphur on Friday at 4 p.m. If the Lady Gators win, they will face either No. 2 Airline or No. 3 Barbe in the Class 5A championship game on Saturday evening.