In a remarkable exhibition of character and determination the Jackson Parish 12u girl’s All-Stars won the Little League District 5 Softball Tournament held this past weekend in Grand Cane, LA. The triumph secures the locals a spot in the State Tournament to be held in Broussard, LA on July 9th.
While the tournament victory was so sweet, how these resilient young ladies endured and overcame tremendous adversity, time and again, actually may be the greatest takeaway of all. Certainly, how they regrouped and responded will be something each and everyone involved will look back on with great pride for years to come.
Broken beginnings! The first of the several possible pitfalls that had to be dealt with came about even before the tournament began. That was when Carlyn Waters broke not one, but both, of her arms while practicing basketball a few days before their first game.
“We were expecting big things from Carlyn and it was a blow to lose her,” said JP12u head coach Brandon Lamkin. “She was not only our #2 pitcher but was expected to be major offensive contributor as well.”
Lamkin continued to praise the fallen team member.
“You could tell she tremendously disappointed in not getting to play but to her credit didn’t let it stop her from inspiring and supporting her teammates. She deserves as much credit for this victory as the ones who were on the field.”
Stunning start! With ace, Breanna Lamkin, on the mound for the first five innings of the tourney opener it looked like the locals would cakewalk into the second round after taking a 12-5 lead. Then in the top of the sixth, Bossier exploded for nine runs. The crushing 14-12 loss plummeted JP into the elimination bracket.
Staying alive! Now facing a do or die situation, JP12u was forced to, once again, pitch their ace. Lamkin didn’t disappoint either as she limited DeSoto Parish to just three hits in the 10-8 elimination game victory. The win kept the locals alive but at a heavy price as Lamkin had now exhausted the innings she was allowed to throw.
“Without Carlyn we really only had one pitcher so we didn’t have a choice but to throw Breanna again,” reflected Lamkin. “We don’t beat DeSoto, we go home.”
Now what? Already out of pitching after only two games, the brain-trust of Lamkin, Craig Waters and Denise Robertson saw their first choice to take the mound in game three, a rematch against Bossier, give up six runs in one third of an inning. What to do now? Enter Lily Jones.
“Scrappy” saves the day! Jones quickly showed why she is known as “Scrappy.” With virtually no pitching experience, Jones went right at the Bossier batters and got the locals out of the inning with no further damage. Then she proceeded to hold Bossier scoreless in the second.
Rally time! Buoyed by a pep talk from the coaching staff the locals dug in caught fire at the plate. Twelve runs later, JP held a 13-6 lead after two innings of play. Bossier narrow the margin to one run an inning later but Jones and company refused to relinquish the lead in the 18-14 victory.
Rubber game! The stage was now set for the winner take all final. Both teams now had depleted pitching staffs. Offensively the two had also proven to be about equal as JP had scored 30 runs and rapped out 18 hits while Bossier had scored 28 runs on 17 hits in the two previous meetings.
Oh No! Not again! After four innings, JP held a slim 12-10 advantage in what had become a slugfest. Nine runs in the top of the fifth gave the locals a seemingly safe 21-10 lead but unbelievably, just as had taken place in the first game, Bossier charged back to take a 23-21 lead heading into the final frame.
“After Bossier came back again, I was concerned that our girls spirit would be crushed and it would be too much to overcome,” said Lamkin. “When I looked into their eyes as they came off the field tough I saw they still had a lot of fight left in them.”
Lamkin and the staff gathered their troops and implored them not to get down but continue to battle.
“We reminded them that they were the best players in our area and had earned the right to be here,” recalled Lamkin. “Then I told them to forget about what just happened, refocus and go bring that championship back to Jackson Parish.”
Stepping up! Showing incredible fortitude well beyond what would be expected from a group so young, the determined girls responded to plea by their coach and scored eight in the top of the sixth to go up by six runs.
“There aren’t enough words to describe how I felt watching these young girls come together and fight back like they did,” beamed Lamkin.
Fantastic finish! After throwing five plus innings the game before and heading into her sixth inning of this one Jones had already thrown more pitches in the two games than she had her entire life. It was obvious she was spent and going on nothing more than guts and determination. Not surprisingly, Bossier quickly loaded the bases with no outs.
Then FINALLY fortune shined Jackson Parish’s way. The next batter hit a sharp line drive toward second base. Breanna Lamkin calmly snared the shot, touched second and then threw to first. TRIPLE PLAY! WE WIN! WE WIN! WE WIN!
Total team effort! While Lamkin’s defensive play highlighted the final game slugfest, there were several more players that played key roles. Zoee Williams led the way at the plate with 5 hits. Lanee Cheatwood, Jones, Molly Beaubouef, Avery Watson and Adysen Breeland hit inside-the-park homeruns. On the bases, Allie Robertson used her speed to steal multiple bases. Defensively, Watson and Beaubouef were stalwarts behind the plate and Morgan Cheatwood made several outstanding plays in the outfield. Additional contributors throughout the tourney were Allie Robertson, Emma Walker, Maria Anderson and Peyton Cotton.
Lasting impression! The fifteen young ladies and their coaches left Jackson Parish with one simple mission – win the district tournament. It took three days to achieve their goal. The memory of how they did it will stay with them forever.