Denham Springs falls in 5A softball final

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SULPHUR — After scoring nine runs in each of its first two games at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball Championships, Denham Springs High wanted to keep its offense rolling.

However, the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets couldn’t keep pace with second-seeded Ouachita Parish High, which pounded out 11 hits while claiming an 8-3 victory in the Class 5A title game that helped close out the two-day tourney at Frasch Park.

Victoria Pederson garnered Outstanding Player honors after going 4-for-4 with a home run, a double, an RBI and four runs scored for the second-seeded Lions (26-3).

Karlee Walker was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the winners, who won a title in their first title-game appearance. The Lions had never advanced past the quarterfinals previously. Kat Lee allowed seven hits and struck out five.

“I told them before the season that somebody in our district had a chance to win the state title,” Ouachita coach Tim Whitman said. “I thought it was wide open. (Top-seeded) St. Amant was probably head-and-shoulders above everybody most the year.

“A lot has to happen. You’ve got to play well and you’ve got to be lucky too. I’m just glad they (OPHS players) had a chance to experience this.”

DSHS (23-6) has been the 5A runner-up three times in the last decade, including in 2011. Bailey Fuiche was 2-for-3 and Brittany Case finished 2-for-4 with a run scored the Yellow Jackets.

The fact that OPHS chose to intentionally walk freshman catcher Jaden Accardo four times was notable. Accardo had three home runs in the tourney, including two in the Yellow Jackets semifinal win over Pineville. All three of DSHS’ tourney foes scored eight runs.

“That’s our fault for not getting somebody on base in front of her (Accardo) so they had to pitch to her,” DSHS coach David Bourque said. “Our team has been good at protecting her. I look at it this way, we got free passes and didn’t get a hit behind her.

“From top to bottom I thought we were balanced real well. In this game we just didn’t produce.”

Ouachita struck first in the bottom of the first. Pederson worked launching a home run to left that gave the Lions a 1-0 lead.

Denham Springs grabbed the lead in the top of the third. Case led off with an infield single and moved to second on a second by Bailey Hughes.

Accardo was walked to load the bases. Kaitlyn Thompson singled to center to score two runs, giving DSHS a 2-1 lead.

Pederson led off the bottom of the third with a double to left. Walker doubled to right, bringing Pederson home with the tying run. Walker was sacrificed to third and scored on an error to give OPHS a 3-2 advantage.

The Lions extended their lead in the fourth. Mallory Vining doubled, took third on a ground out and came home on a fielder’s choice, Pederson singled to left and advanced to second on an error. Walker followed with another single that scored Pederson, giving the Lions a 5-2 lead.

OPHS added three more runs in the sixth. Pederson was at it again with single and Walker reached on a fielder’s choice. Nicki Skerlong singled down the right-field to score Pederson. Walker scored on an errant throw on the same play. Skerlong scored on Morgan Adams’ sacrifice fly.

DSHS loaded the bases in the top of the seventh. Carli Crow scored on Fuiche’s single but got no closer.