SULPHUR – The date April 27 now holds even more importance to the Brusly High School softball program.
The Class 3A state championship eluded Brusly since the Lady Panthers last won the title April 27, 1997.
The dry spell ended exactly 16 years later.
Brusly defeated Notre Dame-Crowley 5-3 in the Class 3A championship game Saturday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Fast Pitch 56 Championship Tournament.
The win on a misty evening at Frasch Park marked the third state title in the history of the BHS softball program. The Lady Panthers first won the state title in 1991 under then-head coach Julie Mayeux, who also guided BHS to a championship win over Vanderbilt Catholic (now a 4A school) in 1997.
The Lady Panthers lost to Catholic-New Iberia in the 2011 3A title game, and came up short in extra innings against Buckeye in the 2012 semifinals.
The third time was the charm for Brusly.
The win capped a 31-game streak for Brusly, which finished the season 33-2.
“Two years ago we were here and lost in the finals and we wanted to get back,” Brusly coach Beau Bouvier said. “Every day we battled to get back … those girls, the assistant coaches, everybody. I’m so proud of them.”
Brusly pulled from a 1-0 deficit in the third. Claire Daigle got to base on an error and Akiya Thymes got to base on a one-bagger. She reached second on a throw to infield.
A Carlie Comeaux double to left drove in Daigle and Thymes.
Brusly then padded its lead with three runs in the fifth when Lanisha Taylor’s double to right brought home Comeaux, who reached base on an error. Taylor scored off a Madison LaPrairie single and courtesy runner Kelsey Parker reached home on a Shelby Fleming groundout.
Notre Dame (27-8) took the lead in the first when Alli Daigle (2-for-3) scored on a triple by Elsie LeBeouf (2-for-3).
“ That’s been the way we were all season,” Bouvier said. “We never panicked and we were never out of it.
Carli Jo LeBlanc (24-1) struck out six, allowed five hits and retired 15 of 18 batters in the middle of the game.
The BHS junior was named Outstanding Player of the Game.
“This season was a team effort,” LeBlanc said. “I owe everything to this team.”
Mayeux, who watched in the dugout with the Lady Panthers, relished in the memories from her years as head coach.
“It brings back awesome memories and makes me very proud of Beau,” she said. “He’s done a tremendous job. I watched him grow as coach with me, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy and a better group of girls.
“A lot of the former players have been sending messages to them,” Mayeux said. “It’s really a community thing. They don’t just play for themselves, but for the community – and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Lady Panthers reached the finals after a 9-0 quarterfinal win over Crowley and a 2-1 semifinal victory over Jena.
Against Crowley, LeBlanc struck out four, walked one and allowed two hits. Thymes had two stolen bases and one hit, while Comeaux and LeBlanc each smacked a double. Crowley committed six errors.
In action against Jena, Taylor’s solo homer powered Brusly in the first inning. A Carlie Comeaux single to outfield brought home Daigle, who advnced to second on a Thymes fielder’s choice.