Lady Pios secure playoff spot with victory over Kaplan
KAPLAN – Notre Dame’s Lady Pios overcame a rash of early miscues to rally behind senior pitcher Amelia Lavergne for a 6-4 win at Kaplan Thursday afternoon.
The Lady Pios avoided a potential three-way tie that could have required a playoff for the runnerup spot in District 5-3A and secured second place with the victory.
Lavergne kept the Kaplan bats in check over five innings of work, allowing just three hits and a walk while retiring nine straight Lady Pirates over a three inning stretch. She did not allow an earned run and pitched out of trouble caused by errors in the first and fifth innings to pick up the win
Kaplan put three runs on the board in the first inning when the Pios’ infield booted three grounders and misplayed a bunt with a throwing error. With one out and the bases loaded, Lavergne coaxed a ground ball back to the mound for a force out at the plate and then got a pop up to Hillary Stelly at second base to end the inning.
Notre Dame stormed back with five runs in the second inning to take a lead they would not surrender.
Katherine Kirsch drew a walk to start the inning and Taylor Boulet reached on a Kaplan error. Alexa Thibodeaux made the Lady Pirates pay for their mistakes with a double over the rightfielder to knock in both runners and advance to third on the throw in to the plate.
Meranda LeBlanc got Thibodeaux home with a fielders choice grounder. Hillary Stelly, who was 2-for-3 at the plate and had six put outs at second base, kept the rally alive with a base hit to left. Taylor Simon (2-for-4) singled up the middle to plate LeBlanc and later scored on a Kaplan error to make it 5-3.
Notre Dame manufactured an insurance run in the third when Boulet led off with a base hit to left and moved to second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Thibodeaux moved Boulet to third with a grounder to the right side. Heidi Bellard then lifted a fly ball to center that gave Boulet enough space to tag and score for a 6-3 advantage.
Lavergne cruised through the Pirate hitters until a leadoff single in the fifth and two more infield errors. With runners at first and second and one out, shortstop Taylor Simon prevented a potential Kaplan rally with a diving stop on a hard grounder up the middle.
Simon flipped backhanded to Stelly covering second for the force out to keep runners at the corners. Kaplan was able to push in another unearned run before Lavergne got a bases loaded grounder for the third out.
Notre Dame coach Lauren Delahoussaye turned to freshman pitcher Molly Stelly for a change of pace in the sixth inning. Stelly walked the first batter faced, but catcher Meranda LeBlanc nipped the threat by gunning out the runner attempting to steal. Stelly gave up singles in each of the sixth and seventh innings, but recorded swinging strikeouts to end both innings to pick up the save and secure the win.
Notre Dame improved to 17-9 overall and with a 7-3 league mark, earned an automatic berth into the AAA state playoffs as the district runnerup. The Pios have secured the chance to defend their state championship, while third place North Vermilion and Rayne must await the wild card vote to determine their post season fate.