By RODRICK ANDERSON
Most of the East Beauregard Lady Trojans have dreamed of playing in the LHSAA state softball tournament since they first picked up a bat and ball and now that day is finally here.
No. 3 East Beauregard (15-8) will face No. 6 Montgomery (17-8) on Thursday at 12 p.m. at Frasch Park in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
“They have looked forward to this for a while,” East Beauregard head coach Marsha Cooley said. “A lot of these players have played together since they were five and six years old. They are really excited.”
East Beauregard has just one senior in first baseman Kylie Bullock but has a solid core of juniors including pitcher Abbie Clendening (.379, 22 RBI, 5 homeruns/1.41 ERA, 9-6).
Montgomery is no stranger to East Beauregard. The Lady Trojan beat them 22-17 last year in the first round for its first ever playoff win.
Montgomery relies on the pitching of sophomore Carlee Carter (16-8) who has struck out 209 batters in 133 innings.
“We will be prepared to swing at good pitches and not swing at pitches out of the zone,” Cooley said. “We have to just play our game.
“I don’t think that it will be anything that we have not seen. We are just going to go out there and play our game. We have practiced hard and they have prepared. We just need them to show up and do what they need to do.”
South Cameron (16-6) is making its first trip to Sulphur since 2008. South Cameron won a state championship in 2006 and was the runner up in 2007.
“I think that it is going to be a wonderful experience but I just hope that they can stay focused,” South Cameron head coach Kellie McKoin said. “There is so much going on this week with a pep rally and getting out of school early. I hope they can maintain their focus.”
The Lady Tarpons had a gut check midseason when they lost three games at the Sulphur High Spring Classic but have won 10 straight since then.
“We really struggled at the beginning of the season,” McKoin said. “We went to the Sulphur tournament and struggled but it turned our season around.
“We made a bigger commitment to our goal which has always been to reach the state tournament.”
The Lady Tarpons are led by trio of seniors in outfielder turned pitcher Lexi-Jo DeBarbe, a LSU Eunice signee, senior third baseman Baleigh Connor, who has been starting since the sixth grade and center fielder Cadi Manuel.
“I just think that those seniors have stepped up,” McKoin said. “They have been trying to get there all those years and they finally made up their mind to do it.”
No. 4 South Cameron will face No. 5 Delhi Charter (20-7) at 12 p.m. on Thursday.
Other quarterfinal games include No. 1 LaSalle (25-6) versus No. 8 D’Arbonne Woods Charter (19-11) and No. 2 Oak Grove (21-8) and No. 10 Beekman Charter (9-13). Both games will start at 12 p.m.
LaSalle was the No. 5 seed last year but lost to Ascension Catholic 8-4 in the quarterfinals.
Beekman Charter is making its first trip to Sulphur after upsetting No. 7 Delhi Charter 10-7 last week.
Oak Grove is looking for its first state championship since winning the Class 2A title in 2014.