Walker High softball coach Daniel Desselle was overjoyed when his team beat traditional power St. Amant High to open the season.
Now Desselle has asked his team to provide another big win — one that would send the Wildcats to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Softball Tournament in Sulphur.
WHS (21-8), seeded seventh, hosts Bossier City’s Parkway High at 5 p.m. Friday in Class 5A regional-round action. The winner advances to the LHSAA tourney set for April 26-27.
“If we could win this one, I really couldn’t ask for much more,” Desselle said. “To start off with a win over St. Amant, and then to win one to go to the state tournament would be something.
“But we know it won’t be easy. Parkway is a good ballclub. They’ve got a good pitcher and have been playing extremely well. If we can continue playing the way we have, we’ll give ourselves the chance.”
Desselle’s story is an interesting one. He served as Walker’s assistant coach last year. Previously, the closest Desselle had been to softball was spending two years as the strength and conditioning coach for the Mississippi State baseball team.
When previous WHS coach Kelli Gautreau resigned early in the school year to accept another job, Desselle moved to the head coaching job.
“In a way, we’ve been rolling ever since,” Desselle said. “These girls have done everything I’ve asked of them since last fall. We had some tough losses early, but I told them all they needed to do was play up to their capabilities, and they have.”
After that win over St. Amant, the No. 2 5A seed, the Wildcats went 6-6. Since that that point Walker has gone 14-2, including Tuesday’s 16-5 playoff win over Comeaux. WHS’ only losses were to fourth-seeded Live Oak in District 4-5A and to Natchitoches Central.
The Wildcats are a junior-oriented team that starts three seniors up the middle in catcher Taylor Fuchs, Brianna Vincent (second base) and Hailey Sullivan (center field). Fuchs is hitting more than .400 to pace WHS. Junior Kassey Ard (14-7) gets the start on the mound.
St. Amant travels to Bossier City to take on Airline in another 5A game set for 5 p.m. Friday.
The Baton Rouge area’s two remaining Class 3A teams, top-seeded Brusly (29-2) and No. 11 Parkview Baptist also play on the road Friday. BHS plays at South Beauregard at 6 p.m., while PBS (15-15) plays at Notre Dame-Crowley at 5 p.m. at Hensgens Park.
Brusly has won 27 in a row and is looking to win a road regional game for the second straight year.
Carli Jo LeBlanc (22-1) leads Brusly with 0.94 earned run average and 205 strikeouts in 143 innings. LeBlanc struck out all 15 batters she faced in a 10-0 playoff win over Avoyelles on Tuesday.
Parkview’s story is a different. The Eagles started 0-10, playing a schedule of 5A and 4A teams. Senior pitcher Blakeli Entremont is the top pitcher for the first time and has excelled. Shortstop Nicky Dawson, one of four returning senior starters, is hitting better than .500 and has 38 stolen bases.
“I’ve pushed them hard this year,” PBS coach Ashlee Ducote said. “And after that 0-10 start, they’ve regrouped and played well.”
Class 1A strong
False River Academy (12-16) has taken a route similar to Parkview, using a tough nondistrict schedule to net a playoff berth.
The 18th-seeded Gators host No. 2 Mangham at 4:30 Friday after claiming a 14-1 win over No. 15 Montgomery to open the playoffs.
Sophomore Kameryn Fairchild was 4-for-4 with a grand slam in the win over Montgomery. Savannah LeJeune leads the Gators with a .415 batting average.
“It all depends on how we play,” FRA coach Tara Shamsie said. “I really don’t have scouting report. We’re focusing on ourselves and doing what we need to do win.”
CATHOLIC-PC 15, SOUTH CAMERON 0: In New Roads, third-seeded CHSPC (21-6), of Class 1A, advanced to the LHSAA tourney with a four-inning win.
Eighth-grader Ryann Bizette tossed a no-hitter, striking out seven.
Lauren David had three doubles and six runs batted in for the Hornets, who were the Class 1A runner-up a year ago. Bizette was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.