Sixth inning sinks MCHS
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
NEW ORLEANS — For five innings, Morgan City managed to escape unscathed with every challenge Ursuline Academy threw at them in a Class 4A bi-district playoff game Wednesday.
But when Ursuline loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, things quickly fell apart for Morgan City (18-13).
Ursuline (15-13) scored all seven of its runs in the sixth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit and claim a 7-1 victory against Morgan City at Carrolton Riverview Park.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ursuline’s Rachel Rabalais and Kailyn Benoit quickly led off with back-to-back singles.
Ursuline loaded the bases one batter later when Sarah Tradaway hit a grounder to Morgan City’s Brandi Ingram, who unsuccessfully attempted to get Rabalais out at third base.
After MCHS coach Kelly Jo Aucoin called time and met with her team on the mound, Ursuline catcher Cassidy Eymad greeted the Morgan City defense with a two-RBI double to the left field wall that scored two runs for a 2-1 Ursuline advantage.
Later in the inning, with the bases again loaded and one out, Ursuline scored three more runs — one when Gabby Brown was hit by a pitch and two more on single to right-center field by Irianna Nicholas for a 5-1 Ursuline advantage.
Ursuline’s Kailyn Benoit added the final blow, three batters later, with a two-RBI double to center field for a commanding 7-1 lead.
“They just started hitting,” Aucoin said. “It was base shots. We couldn’t make the outs. When we could have made outs, we didn’t make the outs. That’s when it felt like it was the meltdown.”
The six hits Ursuline strung together in the inning were more than they had in the previous five innings combined.
For Ursuline coach Gary Garrison, the outburst was not surprising.
‘That’s how we’ve been kind of all year,” he said. “We have one big inning usually in a game. We haven’t been hitting the ball actually that well. We keep a lot of runners on and can’t get that big hit. We got our big hits from our big hitters today.”
Morgan City could manage little in the top of the seventh as Nikki Pennison reached base on a two-out error, but teammate Tyler Hebert grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
Morgan City’s inability to stop Ursuline in the sixth inning greatly contrasted earlier innings. Morgan City got out of a second-inning jam with Ursuline runners on second and third when MCHS third baseman Katelyn Adams tagged the lead runner out on third base on a fielder’s choice and then threw out the next batter on a groundout to third base.
When Ursuline put runners on first and second bases with two outs in the fifth, Adams made a key catch in foul territory to get the Lady Tigers’ out of a jam.
Morgan City scored its lone run in the fourth inning when Amber Bailey’s bloop single to right field scored Marilynn Bailey.
Bailey’s hit was one of just two for the Lady Tigers off Ursuline’s Jenna Jurisich. Reina Fernandez also added a single.
While the Lady Tigers lose three seniors who played four years for the squad — Pennison (catcher), Fernandez (first baseman) and A. Bailey (shortstop) — Aucoin returns a majority of her squad for next season.
“All it is is a building point from now,” Aucoin said. “Yes, I’m losing three great seniors in key positions but we’re always going to build.”
Aucoin lauded her three seniors for their efforts on the softball team the past four years.
“These three seniors I have, they’re very determined (and) motivated,” she said. “I give my heart out to them because they worked their butts off all season long.”