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High school softball: In game between evenly matched teams, Airline comes up just short in quarterfinals

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In a tense battle between evenly matched teams, No. 6 seed Airline fell to No. 3 Lake Charles Sam Houston 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A playoffs at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Softball State Tournament on Friday in Sulphur.

Airline closed one of the best seasons in school history 26-5. It was the Lady Vikings’ first trip to the state tournament since 2007 when Airline reached the title game. Sam Houston (30-3) will face No. 2 Hahnville in Saturday’s semifinals.

How evenly matched were the two teams? Airline had four hits and Sam Houston had five. Each team had one extra-base hit, a double. The Lady Vikings and the Lady Broncos had four strikeouts each.

Both teams also played well in the field. Sam Houston made the only error in the game.

Sam Houston’s runs came in the second inning on a two-strike, two-out, two-RBI double by Maddie Pourciaux.

Airline had its chances.

In the top of the first inning, Jessica Baffuto singled with one out
and advanced to second on Brooklyn Brandon’s sacrifice bunt. But she was left stranded.

Jessica Grubbs got a one-out single in the second but the Lady Vikings couldn’t advance her.

Airline came very close to scoring an unearned run in the third. Baffuto hit a fly ball and reached second on an error with two outs. Brandon followed with a single to left field. Baffuto hustled toward home, but the Lady Broncos made the play at the plate for the out.

The Lady Vikings put two on in the fifth with two outs thanks to a walk and hit-by-pitch. But a lineout ended the inning.

In the sixth, Caroline Easom smacked a two-out double to left field. Sam Houston’s Jennifer Griggers then induced a flyout.

Griggers and Airline freshman Raelin Chaffin both turned in solid outings. Griggers issued just one walk, and Chaffin didn’t walk any.

The good news is Airline should have almost its entire lineup back next season.

Airline senior Molly Dickens, who was a major contributor to the team’s success, was one of three Bossier Parish players named to the LHSAA All-Academic Composite Team. All the athletes on the composite team have four-year grade-point averages of 4.0.

The other two honored were Haughton’s Savannah Salley and Parkway’s Shelby Newman.

Note: This story has been updated and corrected from the original to show that Airline last reached the state tournament in 2007.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com