In Class B, it was the year of Vernon Parish for baseball and softball.
Anacoco (softball) and Hornbeck (baseball) each won its first state title in their respective sports. Anacoco beat Quitman, while Hornbeck upset two-time defending state champion Forest in an extra-inning classic.
As a result, Anacoco and Hornbeck swept the top individual honors in Class B as voted on by a panel of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Anacoco, a state softball runner-up from 2002-04, broke through this season, riding the arm of junior Marci West to the state championship. West, the state title game MVP, was chosen as the Class B Outstanding Player by the LSWA. She had a pitching record of 22-8 overall with a 0.42 earned run average. She tallied 220 strikeouts in 184 innings, with 47 of those strikeouts coming in the playoffs.
West also batted .457 with three home runs, 32 RBIs and 41 runs scored. She added an on-base percentage of .536, along with a slugging percentage of .761.
Hornbeck, which won its first state title in the history of the school in any sports, knocked off four higher-seeded teams en route to the state title, leaning heavily on the arm and bat of junior standout Matt Alford.
Alford, the title game MVP, was named baseball’s Outstanding Player after sporting a batting average of .420 on the season, with two home runs and 25 runs scored. He also pitched a complete-game masterpiece in the semifinals against Fairview, while also working a few innings the following day in the finals against Forest.
The Coaches of the Year also hail from Vernon Parish. Chase Stringer of Anacoco and Dustin Smith of Hornbeck brought home the honors, both being first-time winners of the award. Stringer led Anacoco to a perfect district mark, along with an impressive march to the state title. Smith guided Hornbeck to its first-ever appearance in the state tournament, along with earning a state title.
West was joined on the all-state squad by teammates Brandie Perkins and D’Ambra Perkins. Brandie Perkins, a senior shortstop, batted .310 on the season with 16 RBIs, while D’Ambra Perkins, a junior third baseman, batted .429 with 25 RBIs.
Alford saw teammate Shannon Hale earn first-team honors for the Hornets. A senior, Hale batted .435 on the year with four home runs and 18 RBIs as he played both second base and in the outfield.
Vernon Parish landed a total of 11 players on the two teams, including the Pitkin duo of Ali Merchant and Kristen Roshong, Simpson’s Taylor Ellzey and Hicks’ Brett Harvey on the softball squad, while Anacoco’s Jason Ortiz and Hicks’ Ty Williams were selected to the baseball squad.
Merchant and Roshong led Pitkin to its first semifinal appearance in school history. Merchant, a senior, had a record of 19-8 on the year with a 1.64 ERA, while also batting over .400 for the Lady Tigers. Roshong, a junior catcher, batted .455 overall, driving in 18 runs, while also sporting a perfect fielding percentage.
Ellzey batted nearly .600 during her senior season for Simpson, while Harvey, a freshman, helped lead Hicks to the state quarterfinals with her .500 batting average.
Ortiz, a sophomore for Anacoco, led the Indians to the state quarterfinals in their return to Class B, going 6-2 on the hill with a 1.45 ERA and .299 batting average. Williams, a freshman, batted .462 with four homers and 36 RBIs for the Pirates, who were eliminated by semifinalist Converse in the second round in extra innings.
The remaining members of the softball team include the Quitman duo of Lindsey Hayes (22-8) and Sloan Smith (.450), Stanley senior Haley Cook (.402, 21 RBIs), Zwolle junior Alexes Sepulvado (.488), Oak Hill senior Catie Smith (.363), Glenmora sophomore Jami Johnson, Avoyelles Charter senior Liz McNabb, Grand Lake junior Rebecca Monceaux and Florien eighth-grader Caitlyn Corley (.463).
Joining Alford, Hale, Ortiz and Williams on the all-state baseball squad were the Forest duo of senior Kris Brown and junior Houston Matthews, the Fairview tandem of senior Quade Pitts (10-4) and junior Josh Walker (.475, 24 RBIs), the Converse pairing of senior Dillon Crain (13-1, 193 Ks) and junior Darwin Wright (.395), Oak Hill senior Paul Carpenter (8-1, .319), Glenmora senior Justin Callender, Choudrant seniors Heath Sadler (.302) and Shane Kassab (.267), Grand Lake sophomore Madison Morales and Simsboro senior Josey Chandler (1.26 ERA, 5-2).