SOFTBALL

Lady Bulldogs fall short in Sulphur

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Rae'Shaun Melancon's stellar career at Ascension Catholic ended in the Lady Bulldogs' semifinal loss to CHSPC. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

For a third straight year, the Ascension Catholic Lady Bulldogs were forced to watch a team that eliminated them from the playoffs euphorically hoist the state championship trophy in Sulphur.

After a second-round playoff victory over Centerville, head coach Brandi Manry said, “we do have unfinished business, and this year, we’re looking to finish it.” Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, Catholic of Pointe Coupee finished them off in the semifinals, 7-4.

Ascension Catholic made a tremendous run to Sulphur for the Fast Pitch 56. It was their fourth straight trip.

They went 16-8 during the regular season, won another district championship and earned the No. 4 playoff seed. They won their first two postseason games by a combined margin of 28-0.

They kept the momentum going in their quarterfinal matchup with fifth-seeded LaSalle on Friday evening.

The Lady Bulldogs fell down 3-2 early, but they had a big fourth inning—scoring three runs to take the lead.

Abigail Landry and Ceily Grisaffe each had hits for Ascension Catholic, and eventually, a bunt by Carson Dunn allowed a runner to score to give the Lady Bulldogs a 4-3 advantage.

They led, 5-3, after four innings, following an RBI double by Rae’Shaun Melancon.

They clung to a 6-4 advantage heading into the bottom of the sixth. That’s when the Lady Bulldogs put the game away.

A Bailey Acosta bunt brought a run home, and a grounder by Beck added another score to give Ascension Catholic a commanding 8-4 advantage—which ended up being the final.

The victory pushed them through to the semifinals to face eighth-seeded CHSPC.

The Lady Bulldogs fell into an early hole against the Lady Hornets that they never could dig themselves out of for the rest of the game.

CHSPC erupted for four runs in the third inning to take a 5-1 lead. The flurry was highlighted by a two-RBI double by pitcher Ryan Bizette.

The lead lasted until the bottom of the sixth. Ascension Catholic was finally able to generate some offense—loading the bases with no outs. However, they were only able to score one run before Bizette closed things out with two strikeouts.

In the top of the seventh, the CHSPC lead was increased to 7-2 after a two-run blast by Katelyn Bellelo.

Down to their final three outs, Ascension Catholic opened the seventh with three straight hits. Alicia Canatella drove home two runs to cut the deficit to 7-4 with no outs.

But once again, Bizette was able to close the door on the Lady Bulldogs. They fell, 7-4. CHSPC went on to win the state title, beating St. Mary, 8-3.

In the loss to the Lady Hornets, errors hurt Ascension Catholic. The Lady Bulldogs committed three of them.

Melancon went 2-4 with a homer and an RBI. Canatella went 2-4 with two RBIs.

Ascension Catholic ended the year with an overall record of 19-9.

They’ll now lose two players in Melancon and pitcher Julia Beck that were so key to their run of four straight trips to Sulphur.

But though they lose those All-State stars, the future is still bright for the Lady Bulldogs. They return the rest of their starting lineup, a lineup filled with budding young stars.