Last year was a rare miss for the Sam Houston Lady Broncos, but they will make the return trip to Sulphur on Friday looking to cement themselves as one of the top programs in the state again.
Sam Houston won four state championships from 2011 to 2015, but could have an even better offense this season according to head coach Beth Domingue.
“Offensively, this might be one of the better teams that I have coached,” Domingue said. “We are pretty well rounded power and speed wise.
“I think when we are more confident and attacking the ball I think that we can hang with anybody.”
Leading an offense that averages more than nine runs a game is senior UL-Lafayette signee Casidy Chaumont who is hitting .430 with 11 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 33 RBIs.
There are eight other Lady Broncos with at least 20 RBI including senior Taylor Strother (.380, 14 doubles, 5 home runs, 27 RBIs), sophomore Kimber Hamilton (.396, 10 doubles, six triples, 2 home runs, 33 RBIs) and freshman Jordan Lafosse (.444, 9 doubles, 4 home runs, 26 RBIs).
Sam Houston will face No. 4 Central-Baton Rouge at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
“From what I hear, they are just a good, solid team,” Domingue said. ‘They have two pitchers that do well on the mound.
“Offensively, they can produce. Once you get to the state tournament that is what you are going to see. People are going to put the ball in play and you are going to see some good pitching. I think that it is going to be a good game if we take care of our side of the game.”
The other game in the top half of the bracket will feature defending 5A champ Alexandria (25-2) and its 19-game win streak against No. 8 Hahnville (29-6).
Alexandria is Bronx Bombers of 5A with more than 40 home runs as a team and three players, Briahna Bennett, Caroline Manzer, and Ashley Welsh, with at least seven each and more than 80 combined RBI.
The Barbe Lady Bucs (22-6) will get a chance at revenge at 5 p.m. on Friday when they face No. 2 Ouachita Parish (30-4) in the 5A quarterfinals.
“Obviously, they are a good team and everyone left in 5A is good,” Barbe head coach Sarah Portie said. “I am hoping for better results the second time around.”
Barbe lost last year’s match up 7-6, but Portie is hoping for a quick start this time.
“We have to come out in attack mode and not be passive,” Portie said. “We can’t play to not lose.
“We have to put some runs on the board almost every inning. Our defense is going to have be flawless. You have to make two or less errors if you are going to score five or six runs to win. If we play our A game we have a shot.”
Part of Barbe’s success this year is the pitching duo of seniors Emily Hart (13-4, 81k, 30bb, 90ip, 2.03 ERA) and Jeanne Trahan (8-2, 111k, 18bb, 85 2/3ip, 0.57 ERA), a McNeese State signee.
“If you have multiple strong pitchers on your team then your team is going to be that much better,” Portie said. “They have given us a chance to win every time.
“Hart has done a great job for us the last three years. She has the bulldog mentality and you can’t tell if anything is bothering her but she welcomed some help this year. It has been good to have Trahan to the mix.”
Barbe’s offense is led by senior shortstop Ally Crooks (.456, 12 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, 27 RBIs) and junior Jennifer Perkins (.409, 11 doubles, 6 home runs, 28 RBIs).
The winner out of Barbe and Ouachita Parish will face the winner out of No. 3 St. Amant, who is on an 18-game win streak, and No. 11 Live Oak (20-8). That game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Friday. St. Amant won five consecutive championships from 2002 but has not been back to the finals sence, while Live Oak lost to Alexandria in the semifinals last year.
In Division I, No. 1 Evangel Christian (24-5) is the front runner and will host No. 8 McKinley at 2:30 p.m.
Junior Tally Turnbow (.446, 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 37 RBIs) leads Evangel’s offense while senior Emily Deramus has a 15-3 record in the circle with a 1.52 earned run average and 162 strikeouts.
Also at 2:30 p.m., No. 2 Mt. Carmel (18-5) will take on No. 7 C.E. Byrd (4-26).
At 5 p.m., No. 3 John Curtis (18-10) will take on No. 6 Archbishop Chapelle (6-18) and No. 4 St. Joseph’s Academy (18-9) will face No. 5 Dominican (19-13).
John Curtis won four consecutive state championships from 2012 to 2015, one in Class 2A and three in 3A, but lost in the first-round last year in Class 5A.