Some called it a miracle. Others downplayed the event saying it just took a little while for the girls to settle in. Then there were those that declared it was the “Rally Dino” that was the reason. Describe it how you will but what transpired in the opener of the Little League District 5 tournament played at the Jackson Parish Recreation Department Sports Complex on Friday goes down as the most incredible comeback in Jackson Parish Little League Softball All-Star history.
By scoring eight runs in their final at-bat of regulation play in the bottom of the fifth inning and then adding a run in the seventh, Jackson Parish completed a rally for the ages to defeat Bossier 12-11. That is correct. EIGHT runs in their final at-bat. WOW!
For 5 ½ innings it looked bleak for the home team. Bossier had methodically been picking apart the locals, scoring 2, 3, 4, and 2 runs in each of the first four innings to build a seemingly insurmountable 11-3 lead. Needing only three more outs to move ahead to face the winner of DeSoto and Sterlington in the second round, it seemed a simple enough task. After all, JP12U had managed only one hit over the first four frames. Surely an eight-run lead was safe enough, right?
“When the girls came in for their last at bat, I could see in their eyes that they were still focused and had their heads in the right place,” said head coach Brandon Lamkin. “I am not going to say I knew that we would come back like we did but I knew they were going to battle.”
With their backs squarely against the proverbial “wall” and in a seemingly hopeless situation, the JP12U bats suddenly came to life. Emma Kate Toms led the improbable rally off with an infield single and advanced to second in the attempt to throw her out at first. Gabby Edwards then smacked a double to center field that scored Toms. A walk to Gracie Gray and a grounder to the pitcher by Kylianne Barnes that was ruled a fielder’s choice loaded the bases.
With the home crowd, who had gone all game with nothing to cheer about, starting to make some noise a faint hope started to materialize. Skylar Lamkin worked the count to 3-1 and then got hit by a pitch forcing in Edwards. Kamryn James saw a pitch and then got plunked as well, scoring Gray to make the score 11-6 with one out and the bases still jammed.
It had been a great response so far but there was still a long way to go. As one person reflected after the game, “At that point, I was thinking that we would probably end up losing but at least they went down fighting. I mean how many times does a team come back from eight runs down in the last inning?”
That is a great question. The answer – One time for sure!
Ryleigh Trahan and Bella Blewer both coaxed walks scoring Barnes and Lamkin and the bases were STILL juiced. You could feel the tension starting to thicken as fans from both sides were now screaming wildly as what had once looked like an easy, blowout victory for Bossier was now down to having the tying runs on base.
Tessa Reeves stepped to the plate next and quickly fell into a 0-2 hole after fouling a pitch off and having a strike called against her. The next pitch came in and SMACK! A hard shot flew toward centerfield, landing safely. Trahan scored. Blewer scored and Reeves stood triumphantly on second with a double.
The nightmarish night prior was turning into an impossible dream! The score that had been 11-3 at the beginning of the inning was now 11-10 with the tying run on second and still only one out! It was like a script from a fairy tale. Only it was for real!
In the stands and dugouts the two sides were in stark contrast. Pandemonium had broken out on the home side while the visitor’s section sat in stunned belief as what had seemed impossible was close to coming into fruition.
Still, Jackson Parish trailed by a run.
No matter though as it felt now like it was almost a certainty that Jackson Parish would complete the task. When Teegan Hall hit a sharp grounder to first a memory that will last forever was achieved.
SCORE TIED! ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
Not only that, but the ball was misplayed allowing Reeves to advance to third, still with only one out. Now it looked like Jackson Parish would win it but this dramatic sports production was too good to end at that point.
As fate would have it Jackson Parish didn’t win it in that at-bat as Bossier managed to make a double play to get out of the inning. It was just a matter of time though. Rachel Bandy made sure of that. Since coming in relief in the top of the fourth inning the hurler had been nearly perfect, totally shutting down what had been the potent Bossier offense without a single hit and no runs.
Bandy struck out the side in the sixth inning but ran into trouble in the first extra frame when after walking the lead-off batter and striking out the next two, she hit the next two batters to load the bases. It looked now that the script had flipped and Bossier would end up winning after all. NOT! The next batter hit a grounder that Reeves cleanly fielded at shortstop and fired to first for the final out. WHEW!
With the momentum fully back on the side of the locals and buoyed by “dodging the bullet” Jackson Parish made it pay. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Barnes hit a shot to left and with the ball being misplayed hustled all the way to third. Taylor then lined the next pitch to right field. GAME OVER! WE WIN! WE WIN!
2B – Reeves, Edwards
RBI – Reeves 2, Edwards 2, Trahan 2, Blewer, Hall, Taylor, Lamkin, James
Runs – Barnes 3, Blewer, Hall, Bandy, Toms, Edwards, Gray, Lamkin, James, Trahan
Sterlington 12 Jackson Parish 0: What goes up must come down. It is a law of physics. It also holds true when a team climbs to the top of the emotional ladder and achieves something special like the improbable victory of the night before. Especially when you are dealing with young people. A let down was almost as certain as the sun coming up the next day. It didn’t help that powerful Sterlington was the next opponent either.
The visitors from Ouachita Parish broke out on top with four runs in the first inning and then added five more in the second. This time there was no comeback in the offering. Jackson Parish was unable to do any damage against any of the three Sterlington hurlers who threw one inning each of no hit and shut out ball leading to the game being called after 3 1/2 innings.
Bossier 20 Jackson Parish 18: Talk about flipping the script. In what has become somewhat of a norm in the series between the two team over the last couple of years, this time it was Bossier who made an incredible rally that eliminated the locals with a 1-2 record.
After falling listlessly in the game before that set up a rematch of between Bossier and JP12U, all the momentum the locals had from the first game between the two reappeared from the get go. The problem with “ole mo” as it is commonly called is that it can be a fickle thing. One second it is on your side, the next on theirs.
Jackson Parish stormed out to a 5-0 lead after one inning only to see Bossier bounce back to tie it in the top of the second. “Mo” swung back to the locals in the bottom of the frame as JP12U regained the lead by a 9-5 margin. Bossier would add a run in the top of the third but Jackson Parish looked primed to send the visitors packing by posting a six spot upping the margin to 15-6 after three.
Then the emotions that both team felt during the first game resurfaced only this time it was working the other way around. Bossier scored five to narrow the margin to 16-11 after four and then scored six to go up 17-16. Three more runs in the top of of the sixth made the game 20-16 with Jackson Parish coming up for a final at bat.
With the knowledge of their incredible rally in the first game fresh in their minds hope was abound for another comeback. Teegan Hall reached on an error and Jennalee Hall, Gabby Edwards and Emma Kate Toms all were given free passes to narrow the deficit to three runs. Was Jackson Parish going to grab victory out of the jaws of defeat once again? A second out made it look doubtful but then another walk, this time to Kylianne Barnes, scored another run and set JP12U up with the tying runs in scoring position. Sadly, this time it wasn’t to be as Bossier escaped by getting a strikeout to end the game.
“What can you say,” shrugged head coach Brandon Lamkin. “This is the way the games these two teams have played the last couple of years always turns out. One team takes a big lead, the other comes back to win it. This time it was Bossier’s turn.”
Teegan Hall turned in a tremendous performance in the loss with two hits, including a triple, four runs scored, and 4 RBI. Jennalee Hall also came up big by reaching base three times, once touching them all after her first home run of the tournament and totaling three runs scored and an RBI. Barnes knocked in three by virtue of her single and double and a walk and Hallay Taylor scored three times. Emma Kate Toms would add a pair of runs and Bella Blewer, Tessa Reeves, Gracie Gray, Kamryn James, Ryleigh Trahan and Skylar Lamkin all scored a run.
2B – Barnes
3B – T. Hall
HR – J. Hall
RBI – T. Hall 4, Barnes 3, Reeves 2, J. Hall, Toms, James
RS – T. Hall 4, J. Hall 3, Taylor 3, Toms 2, Blewer, Reeves, Gray, James, Trahan, Lamkin