After coming oh-so-close the past two years, the Benton Lady Tigers are headed back to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Softball Tournament.
Benton, the No. 12 seed, routed No. 5 South Terrebonne 16-5 in six innings in a Class 4A second-round playoff game Saturday in Bourg, located about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans.
Benton (17-15) will face No. 4 Belle Chasse (24-6), a 4-1 winner over No. 13 Crowley, in the quarterfinals Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
South Terrebonne closed its season 23-8.
Benton is headed back to Sulphur for the first time since 2014 when the Lady Tigers lost to North DeSoto in the quarterfinals.
Benton lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to No. 5 Neville in the second round last season after leading through six innings. The Lady Tigers lost to another No. 5 seed, Assumption, 2-1 in the second round in 2015.
This time, Benton made sure there would be no suspense at the end. The Lady Tigers put five runs on the board in the first inning and then added four more in the second, three in the third and two in the fourth for a 14-0 lead.
Nine Benton players combined for 17 hits. Senior pitcher Sarah Koeppen, a Louisiana-Lafayette signee, came close to hitting for the cycle.
She went 3-for-3 with a home run, triple, double and four RBI. Hallie Saintignan, an LSUA signee, went 3-for-4. Makenzie Chaffin had three hits, including a double, and an RBI.
Abby Kent went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Taylor Jones had two hits and two RBI. Anna Claire Kratzer had a double and two RBI. Madi Simms drove in two runs.
Kayla Vo and Brittany Ulmer also had hits. Macey Bridges had an RBI.
The Lady Tigers got four hits in the first. Saintignan and Kent singled, Koeppen tripled and Kratzer doubled.
Koeppen’s homer, a two-run shot, came in the second inning after back-to-back singles by Chaffin and Kent and made it 9-0.
Saintignan and Chaffin led off the third with back-to-back singles. Chaffin scored on a passed ball. Taylor Jones singled in a run and Kratzer scored Marissa Martin with a sacrifice fly.
Ulmer and Saintignan had back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth. Simms’ two-out single to right field scored both and made it 14-0.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org