There is nothing better than playing at home. That is unless your next game is at the home of the state softball tourney, which after smashing Stanley 12-0 on Saturday is where #2 ranked Quitman will take on #3 Florien in a Division V “non-select” school semi-final matchup.
The “final four” that is made up of #2 Quitman, #3 Florien, #4 Converse and #9 Choudrant, who shocked five-time defending Class B state champion and #1 ranked Holden in the quarterfinals, will be played April 28-29 at the North Frasch Softball Complex in Sulphur.
Quitman punched their second ticket in the last three years to the “dance” by following the same dominating script that has led to victories in 27 of their last 28 games as well as a pair of shutouts in the regional and quarterfinal rounds of the playoffs.
No “smoke and mirrors” have been required. The combination of one of the best, top to bottom, offensive attacks in any classification, supporting one of the state’s most dominating pitchers has been devastating to opponents. Especially to those who reside in Division V of the LHSAA.
Seventh seed, Stanley, simply had no chance. Neither did #15 Starks in the regionals or the teams that were seeded #1, #5, #6, #10, and #11 in the Division V playoffs that Quitman has dispatched this season on their way to the swampland of south Louisiana in search of the first state softball championship in school history.
Maybe it would be more apropos if Quitman traveled by train to Sulphur. It would be more reflective of the “locomotive like” exhibition of superiority that the Lady Wolverines has portrayed. Like a powerful engine, Quitman slowly gained momentum early before reaching full throttle to storm their way to a second straight “ten run” rule playoff victory.
The beauty of the Lady Wolverines offensive attack is that the opposition can’t focus on keeping one or two batters off base. From the leadoff to the ninth batter in the lineup, every single one can take a game over and has.
The “steam rolling” of Stanley is a perfect example.
Eight of the nine starters reached base at least once and scored as Quitman pounded out 15 hits in 31 official at bats for a .484 team batting average. Six batters had two or more and of the six extra base hits that Quitman gained, all but one came from the bottom four of the batting order.
As further testament to the depth of the Lady Wolverines attack the “big bat brigade” in this one was led by an unlikely source. After entering the contest with only two extra base hits all year and none in the prior 17 contests, freshman Karley Huckaby exploded for three hits, two homeruns and five RBI. The three hits tied a season high while the home run and RBI totals are both new single game bests in her young career. For added emphasis the three RBI in the bottom of the sixth inning as result of her second “dinger” gave Quitman the “walk-off” victory.
Other “big blasters” in the ball game was Skylar Hall and Hallie Kate Pullig who slashed doubles and scored a run. Madeline Vail also came up big with the team tying high three hits, including a double, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. Cali Deal also got into the act by stroking a triple in the first and scampering home on the first of Maggie Guyotte’s three RBI as did Madison Chaplin who got two hits, scored two runs, knocked one in and stole a base. Maddie Kaye Brymer added a run and an RBI.
In all reality, Quitman only needed the first inning run as the sophomore southpaw Deal was once again virtually untouchable, as she has been throughout the season and especially over the last four games. After allowing a single to Stanley’s leadoff batter of the game on an 0-2 count, Deal gave up only a double in the top of the fourth, to record her fourth straight shutout and 20th win on the season against only one loss. Her eight strikeouts ran her season total to 250 achieved in only 135 innings for an incredible average of 1.85 batters per inning.
NEXT UP! While Quitman has had their way with most of the top teams in Division V this season, the guarantee of a championship trophy is far from given. Standing in the way of a berth in the state title game is #3 Florien. As in the same school that upended Quitman in last year’s quarterfinal round and was the last Class B opponent to beat the Lady Wolverines.
The Lady Black Cats beat #14 Monterey 12-2 and #11 Hicks 12-4 in their first two playoff games to run their overall record to 20-8. Florien is also the district 3B champion, having beat #4 and sister semi-finalist Converse for the title.
|#7 Stanley (13-19)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|#2 Quitman (28-5)||1||2||0||3||0||6||12||15||1|
2B: Hall, Vail, Pullig
HR: Huckaby 2
RBI: Huckaby 5, Guyotte 3, Vail 2, Chaplin, Brymer
RS – Huckaby 3, Chaplin 2, Vail 2, Deal, Guyotte, Brymer, Hall, Pullig
SB – Chaplin
Photos courtesy of Tony Valentino