The Benton Lady Tigers’ remarkable run in the Class 4A playoffs ended Saturday with a 16-0, four-inning loss to top seed and District 1 nemesis North DeSoto in the semifinals at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
Benton, which knocked off the No. 5 and 4 seeds en route to the semifinals, closed its season at 18-16.
North DeSoto (31-3) went on to win its third straight state title, 10-0, over No. 11 West Ouachita on Saturday night. West Ouachita upset No. 2 DeRidder 3-1 in the other semifinal.
Benton’s loss closed the outstanding high school careers of Sarah Koeppen, Hallie Saintignan and Abby Kent. Brittany Ulmer, another contributor to the Lady Tigers’ success, also played her final game.
Koeppen is headed to ULL and Saintignan to LSUA. Kent played a big role in the Lady Tigers’ success the past two seasons. Saintignan had two of Benton’s four hits Saturday. Koeppen hit four home runs and had 14 RBI in the first three playoff games.
North DeSoto blew the game open with six runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Griffins scored all six with two outs, including a bases-loaded triple by Taylor Christian that made it 6-0.
North DeSoto added four runs in the third and then closed the game out with six in the bottom of the fourth.
North DeSoto pitcher EC Delafield, a three-time All-State pitcher, is continuing her career at Northwestern State next season. The Lady Tigers won’t be sorry to see her go.
Delafield finished with a 8-0 career record against Benton. Saturday, she struck out seven. Of course, Delafield did pretty well against the rest of the state, too.
Delafield also starred at the plate Saturday. She hit a home run, triple and drove in six runs.
Christian had a double to go with her triple and five RBI (per Benton stats). Sydney Webster went 2-for-3.
Makenzie Chaffin and Macey Bridges (double) had Benton’s other hits.
The Lady Tigers had a chance to get off to a good start, loading the bases with two outs in the first on a Saintignan single, a sacrifice bunt by Kent and two walks. But Delafield got a strikeout to end the threat.
Saintignan and Chaffin led off the third with back-to-back singles. But Delafield got two strikeouts and a flyout to end the inning.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com