Live Oak, Dutchtown seek state tourney berths

It won’t be high noon, but fourth-seeded Live Oak High and No. 6 Dutchtown High will face the Class 5A softball equivalent of a gunslingers’ duel Saturday.

Live Oak (23-5) hosts No. 13 Pineville (18-9) at Watson’s Live Oak Sports Complex in one regional playoff game set for 2 p.m. Dutchtown (20-7) travels to the Houma area to take on No. 22 H.L. Bourgeois (18-10) in another game also scheduled for 2 p.m. The winners advance to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Softball Tournament on April 26-27 in Sulphur.

“We haven’t played them, but we did get to watch them in a tournament we both played in,” Live Oak coach Michelle Morris said of Pineville. “They’ve got a strong pitcher, and as a team they’ve been playing well late in the year.

“They’re in a tough district like the ones we have here in Baton Rouge and have taken their lumps. Our focus is on us. We’re saying just do the things we do.

“We’ve relied on our bats all year, and we’ll need to come through with some hits. We also need to play an all-around game.”

Dutchtown coach Nancy Ensminger said defense is the key for the Griffins.

“In 5A, everybody hits, so you have to play defense,” Ensminger said. “We have to be able to not only make plays but make them in key situations.”

Live Oak, a quarterfinalist last year, relies on left-hander Amanda Holliday in the circle. Three Eagles ­— shortstop Brooke Morris, outfielder Payton Gremillion and second baseman Sarah Sepeda — are all hitting more than .400.

Pineville is led by Bailey Allen (14-9), who has 140 strikeouts in 147 innings. Ellen Albritton, Payten Collins and Allie Williams are the Rebels’ top hitters.

Ensminger said whether Aleah Craighton or Ali McCoy starts at pitcher will be a game-time decision. Eight DHS players had hits in a first-round win over Ponchatoula on Tuesday.

Jessica Crum and Royelle Cobb each had three hits. Crum has 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in. McCoy (.471) is also a top hitter for the Griffins, who lost to eventual 5A runner-up Hahnville in the regional round last spring.

HLB is led by freshman pitcher Brooke Overley. Third baseman Maddie Monnier, outfielder Lindsey McCullough and first baseman Kasie Hebert are the Braves’ top hitters.

“We haven’t played them (H.L. Bourgeois) this year,” Ensminger said. “From what I understand, they’ve got a first-year coach and a young team that is coming up. There’s a lot riding on this one for both teams.