Lady Bengals head to regional tournament

When the Louisiana State University at Eunice Lady Bengals were in the midst of a 14-game losing streak early in the season, it appeared the hopes of making a post-season tournament were slim and none.

But a 14-0 run combined with a 5-3 record against Division II opponents lifted the Lady Bengals to the regionals.

The Region XXIII softball tournament will be held Friday through Sunday in Clinton, Miss.

The six-team tournament includes LSUE, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Copiah-Lincoln, Northeast Mississippi Community College, East Central Community College and Hinds Community College.

“They all good ball teams with their own strengths and weaknesses,” DeWitt said of the tournament. “Some are offense first but others like Gulf Coast and Co-Lin are equal with offense and defense.”

Recent region champions MCC and Copiah-Lincoln finished third in the past two national tournaments.

LSUE starts Friday at 2 p.m. against Hinds Community College.

A LSUE win and the Lady Bengals will face either either Gulf Coast or Co-Lin.

A Lady Bengal loss and LSUE will take on either Northeast Mississippi or East Central (Miss).

“We have to win that first game,” he said. “That will make our job a lot easier.

“Their pitching is something we can handle and their defense makes mistakes at times,” DeWitt continued. “If we hit, our pitching staff is on and we handle their slap hitters then we should be okay.”

DeWitt mentioned three keys to the Lady Bengalsionship.

“Our pitching has to be on as far as their location, our hitters have to be patient and pick out good pitches and when they connect, they have to drive the ball with hard hits.

“We can score a lot of runs when four or five of our girls are hitting the ball,” he said.

DeWitt said the opposing pitching they will face in the tournament will not be to the level of Galveston or Chipola Community College.

“It was for that reason I wanted to schedule the hard teams,” he said of the pre-conference schedule. “We played up and got challenged.

“There are good pitchers in this tournament,” he said. “But they’re pitchers if we are patient we can handle.

DeWitt said he will start freshman Hannah Latiolais and sophomore Elizabeth Kaiser, but sophomore Fagan Willoughby and freshman Salea Willoughby could also see action in the double- elimination tournament.

“I told them all if it takes all four pitchers to win the game, then that is what we will do,” he said.

“They have the potential to be dominant when they hit their spots,” the coach said of the foursome. “We are working on being consistent.

“They are better at hitting the corners and when the offense started scoring more out pitchers relaxed more and their confidence level went up.”

DeWitt said the Lady Bengal defense is getting better and should be ready for whatever is thrown at them.

“We have one shot at a play,” the coach said of errors. “We are not good enough where we can escape three or four errors in a game.”

DeWitt said the sophomores will be the key to a successful tournament.

“We have at times between five and seven sophmores starting and they are all at crucial postitions,” the coach said. “If we make an error or turn a great double play, eitherway we just have to move forward.”

LSUE finished third and fourth in its first two trips to the regional tournament.

“We finished 2-2 last year and so we are knocking on the door,” DeWitt said of a possible historic regional championship. “If we are hitting, pitching and defense then we can walk through the tournament.

“That would be awesome.”

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