SULPHUR — At its best, softball is a balancing act.
With Carli Jo Leblanc retiring 16 of 18 batters at one point and four players driving in runs, Brusly High found the right balance to claim a state title Saturday night.
After finishing as the runner-up two years ago and advancing to the semifinals in 2012, the Panthers notched a 5-3 victory over Notre Dame-Crowley in the Class 3A final as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Fast Pitch 56 State Tournament concluded.
“Two years ago we were here and lost in the finals and we wanted to get back,” Brusly coach Beau Bouvier said. “Last year we came up short (losing in the semifinals). Every day we battled to get back. I’m so proud of them … those girls and the assistant coaches.
“We never panicked. We put runners on base, and we came through with some hits. She (Leblanc) pitched a great tournament and the playoffs.”
Leblanc, who struck out six and scattered four hits, was voted the title-game Outstanding Player for BHS, which won its first state softball title since 1991. The Panthers and Catholic-PC in Class 1A gave the Baton Rouge area its first softball titles since 2006.
A record crowd of 20,413 fans attended the two-day tournament held at Frasch Park.
Carlie Comeaux and Lanesha Taylor were Brusly’s top hitters, with both finishing 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Comeaux had two RBIs, and Taylor added one.
Maddi LaPrarie and Shelby Fleming also had one RBI each for the winners, who ended the year on a 31-game winning streak. Elise LeBeouf (2-for-3 with an RBI triple) and Allison Daigle (2-for-3, two runs scored) led Notre Dame (27-8).
“We had a really intense semifinal game, and I was hoping it would carry over,” Notre Dame coach Dusty Collette said. “And for the most part I think it did. I thought we played well, just not well enough to win it.
“Credit to them (the Panthers). Their pitcher was good and kept us off balance and they made all the plays they had to make to win.”
Notre Dame opened the scoring in the top of the first. Allison Daigle singled and scored on a triple by LeBeouf.
Brusly took the lead by scoring twice in the bottom of the third. Claire Daigle reached on an error, and Akiya Thymes singled and advanced to second on the throw to the infield. Comeaux’s double down the left-field line scored both runners.
The Panthers increased their lead to 5-1 in the fifth. Comeaux reached on an error. Taylor doubled to the right-field wall to score Comeaux. Kaitlin David walked before LaPrairie’s RBI single scored Taylor. Courtesy runner Kelsey Parker scored on a groundout by Fleming.
After giving up the RBI triple in the first, Leblanc retired 16 of the next 18 batters.
“It (game) goes play by play,” Leblanc said. “You have to make every single play, and you can’t look ahead of that at all.”
The Pioneers didn’t get another hit until Allison Daigle singled off Leblanc’s leg in the top of the sixth.
Alli Daigle went to third on a single by LeBeouf and scored on a wild pitch. Lebeouf then scored on a ground out by Alexa Thibodeaux.
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