The 2023 LHSAA Softball playoff brackets were released this past Thursday bringing forth a myriad of reactions from the three schools from Jackson Parish that recently completed their season. The announcement was met with rather a ho-hum attitude for one while the other two experienced the full gamut of emotions, ranging from jubilant celebration to extreme disappointment.
Quitman High School – After completing the regular season with a sterling 26-5 record the only real question that the Lady Wolverines had was whether they would be the #1 or #2 seed in the Division V playoffs. For much of the year, Quitman held the top spot only to be passed up by five-time defending Class B state champion Holden during the last week of the regular season. Despite winning the head-to-head battle between the two, the difference came through power points achieved by Holden who won four of five games played from April 3-12 against highly ranked Class 5A schools. Quitman did all they could do to stay in the top spot as they took victories over a pair of 4A teams and one 5A school but fell victim to having a scheduled contest against North DeSoto the top-ranked team in Division II being canceled due to inclement weather.
Regardless, the Lady Wolverines are odds-on favorites to make the trip to Sulphur for the state tournament that will be played April 28-29. The Lady Wolverines will play host to the winner of #15 Starks and #18 Simsboro in the Regionals, slated to be played on April 19th. A victory there sets up another home game in the quarterfinals against whoever advances from the pod of #7 Stanley, #10 Calvin, #23 Castor, and #26 Gibsland-Coleman. During the regular season, Quitman beat all of the potential Quarterfinal opponents by the “ten run rule” except for G-Coleman, whom they didn’t play. That would set up a semifinal matchup against most likely #3 seed Florien or #6 seed Bell City.
Jonesboro-Hodge High School – Easily the feel-good story of the year in Jackson Parish and north Louisiana. When the past week began, the Lady Tigers were sitting at #27 in Division IV and living with the knowledge that only the top 26 would advance to the postseason. What made it worse was that the week before JHHS was sitting pretty at #20 after winning a season-best three games in a row but then lost two to Saline and two more to lowly Ringgold, a team they had already beaten and was now on the outside looking in. Digging deep, JHHS rebounded by beating Lincoln Prep and Plain Dealing before losing their final game of the year to Class 4A Peabody out of Alexandria. When the final tabulations came in JHHS had vaulted four spots to #23 setting up an improbable matchup with #10 Merryville on the road.
For JHHS to be in a position to even think they had a chance to make the postseason is a story in itself and a testament to the character and determination of the young ladies on the squad and the tremendous job done by first-year head coach Mathew Pearce and assistants James Garsee and Wayne Anderson. Coming into this season JHHS had suffered through two straight years of winning one game. It looked like more of the same would be the result this season as the Lady Tigers opened the year by losing their first six contests. Through a determined work ethic the proverbial “light” finally clicked on as JHHS compiled a 9-7 record the rest of the way. To put into perspective how far JHHS came this year, the nine wins represent more than the Lady Tigers have managed in the last four years combined and most since 2017.
Weston High School – Viewing the Division V playoff bracket couldn’t have been worse for the Lady Wolves, who also had made a serious late-season rally to hopefully earn a trip to the postseason. Heading into the final week of play, Weston was buried at #33 in the rankings after suffering losses in six straight games.
To Coach Cecilia Chambliss and her team’s credit, instead of just playing out the string the Lady Wolves showed tremendous character to give it one final effort to see where the “chips would lay”. Giving it all they had, Weston beat Downsville and Castor, which gave them second place in District 1B behind Quitman. That put them at #27 but one final game remained against a strong St. Mary’s team, that had already qualified for the playoffs in Division IV among “select” schools.
Despite coming up short, hope was still abounding that enough power points would be gained by “playing up” to qualify. To their dismay though, Weston came in behind Gibsland-Colemen for the final spot by a mere 00.141 points ending the Lady Wolves season with a 7-17 mark.