Mount Carmel slugs way to a second softball crown

In boxing jargon, the outcome of Mount Carmel’s three-game sweep of the LHSAA’s Division I softball tournament was a technical knockout of its three opponents.
 
The Cubs, seeded No. 2 in the abbreviated division of just eight teams, dominated their three opponents, and none more than their Catholic League mate and adversary, Dominican.

  
Sure, the Cubs had beaten Dominican 10-0 and 5-0 in District 9-5A play, but the gallant team with no nickname had that winning feeling after it convincingly defeated the division’s No. 1 seed, Evangel, 9-3, in the semifinal round earlier in the day on April 30.
 
One day before, Dominican scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to eliminate St. Joseph’s Acdemy, 6-5.
 
It hardly mattered that Mount Carmel scored knockouts over Byrd, 17-2, and John Curtis, 10-3. Coach Dawn Benoit’s girls were primed for an upset.
 
It didn’t take long for the Cubs (21-5 record) to break the hearts of their long-time rival.


 
Behind Shelby Wicker­sham’s strong arm and a slugfest that lasted just 3 1/3 innings, Mount Carmel delivered the knockout blow to a final count of 15-0.
 
Dominican (18-13), which was playing for a softball championship for the first time since the tournament began in 1972, was understandably shattered. The school’s teams had lost to the Cubs on many occasions, but hardly by such a crushing margin.
 
The first inning went well enough. Even though Wickersham set the first three batters down in order, Mount Carmel also failed to produce any runs of its own in the bottom of that inning.
 
Then the bombs dropped. Mount Carmel sluggers – and there were several over the two days of the tournament, – opened a 4-0 lead in the second inning, then doubled that number when eight more touched home in a 13-batter parade to the plate.
 
Meanwhile, Wickersham (a junior right-hander) gave up just one harmless single to Dominican’s Teresa Giorlando in the third inning.
 
Stringing together three more hits, the Cubs scored the final salvo to claim the title coveted by eight teams when the tournament began.

The outcome was quite unlike the magical year of 2008 when Mount Carmel, St. Charles Catholic and Pope John Paul II all won state championships on the same weekend. It took 11 innings for the Cubs to defeat Pineville, 1-0, in the championship game, thanks to the near-flawless pitching of senior Meghan Patterson.
 
This year, Mount Carmel outscored its three playoff opponents 32-5. The Cubs’ runs outnumbered their base hits by six, and Wickersham allowed just eight hits and sent 25 batters back to the dugout via strikeouts.

Largest Catholic field
In this first year when softball champions are contested separately by public and private schools, seven teams – the most ever from the Archdiocese of New Orleans – qualified for the trip to Sulphur.
 
St. Charles Catholic and the Academy of Our Lady advanced as far as the semifinal round before being eliminated.
 
St. Charles Catholic avenged an earlier 9-8 defeat to non-district foe Archbishop Hannan in the quarterfinal round on April 29. The Lady Comets scored three runs in the seventh inning to knot the game at 4-4, then won it in the bottom of the eighth when Brooke St. Pierre hit a slow infield roller to score Jeri Bryant, who slid under the attempted tag for the team’s 30th win of the season.
 
The Academy of Our Lady, in just its fifth year as a consolidated school, advanced to the semifinals on Hanna Miller’s solo home run in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Loyola Prep, 6-5.
 
The season ended for both a day later when No. 1 Calvary Baptist overpowered St. Charles, 11-1, in the Division III semis, and AOL barely lost to eventual Division II champion Parkview Bapist, 9-8.
 
Riverside Academy eliminated Cabrini, 13-3, and Archbishop Chapelle lost to Curtis, 7-1, in a Division I game.
 
Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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