Lady Pios crush Xavier in playoff opener
CROWLEY – Notre Dame pitcher Mollie Stelly wasn’t perfect Tuesday.
But she was close.
Stelly struck out 11 of the 12 batters she faced in a 15-0 four-inning victory over the Xavier Lady Yellow Jackets in the bi-district round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The Lady Pios improved to 22-9 with the victory and will play host to No. 11 Avoyelles on Thursday at 5 p.m. in a regional contest. Avoyelles advanced to the second round with a 5-2 victory over South Beauregard.
“Mollie has been throwing well,” said ND coach Lauren Delahoussaye. “Xavier Prep wasn’t very strong at the plate, but Mollie used a variety of pitches; she hit her spots very well and she felt good. She was confident on the mound and it was a very good day for her.”
Xavier pitcher Macy McNeil was the lone player to handle a delivery from Stelly. Her flyout to center field to lead off the second inning was the lone ball put in play off the sophomore hurler.
“Molly was excited about the first-round game and her velocity was up today,” said Delahoussaye. “She works hard every day to get better and it’s showing.”
Notre Dame’s offense gave Stelly more than enough run support in the first inning alone.
The Lady Pios sent 14 batters to the plate in the opening frame and scored nine runs on four hits, four walks and four Xavier errors. Taylor Boulet had two hits and drove in two runs in the frame while Alli Daigle and Alexa Thibodeaux had the other two hits.
McNeil was tagged for four more runs in the second frame.
Taylor Satchell got things started with a leadoff single and she later scored on Charlotte Brown’s double to left. Hillary Stelly then drew a walk before Elise LeBeouf delivered a two-run double to center. Daigle plated the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Pios threatened again in the bottom of the third and had runners at second and third with two outs but failed to push across a run.
Notre Dame ended the game the following inning when Daigle, who reached on an error, scored on a wild pitch and Thibodeaux, who singled, crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk to Satchell.
Notre Dame banged out nine hits on the day and also took advantage of five Xavier errors and 11 walks.
Boulet, Thibodeaux and Brown led the offensive charge with two hits each while LeBeouf, Satchell and Daigle each had one.
“The pitching wasn’t what we were used to seeing, but it still forced us to work on a lot of things that we need to work on - like keeping our swings short, keeping it quick rather than matching the speed of the ball,” said Delahoussaye.
“We work on making solid contact and hitting the ball hard. As the hitting coach, I was not pleased to see us take two innings to score two runs. It could have been better. I’m not satisfied and I don’t think they were either.
“We would have liked to have had a better showing but I’m still proud of them for working hard and putting away a team early.”
The only thing now standing between Notre Dame and a return trip to the Fast Pitch 56 State Tournament in Sulphur is Avoyelles. Last year, the Lady Pios, who won the state title in 2010, were bounced from the tournament by Berwick (8-4) in the quarterfinals.
“You know, one of our goals every year is to get to the state tournament,” said Delahoussaye. “But we have to get by Avoyelles to do that. They are going to be well coached and they are not going to just roll over and give us the game. It should be a very competitive game and we’re going to have to play our best.”