When your team limits the No. 1-ranked softball squad in Class 5A to one run, no doubt some impressive pitching and solid defense was on display.
When your ballclub puts six runs on the board, it leaves no room for doubt.
The Natchitoches Central Lady Chiefs softball team notched a milestone victory at home Monday evening, sending Pineville’s Lady Rebels back down I-49 with a 6-1 thumping. It was only the second loss in 33 games for the visitors, who are ranked 13th nationally in one poll.
NCHS (20-8) looked every inch the team that returned all but one player back from last year, when the Lady Chiefs went 23-9 and reached the state playoff quarterfinals.
“We have played really well,” said coach Ronnie Abels of his team, which has six seniors. “We did today.”
That will boost the Lady Chiefs’ seeding a bit when the power rankings are compiled and state playoff brackets are announced on Thursday. Monday’s game was the final regular-season contest for both teams.
It was a memorable one for NCHS. Pitcher Maddie Robinson threw a complete-game six-hitter, striking out nine in seven innings and walking only two. She threw 126 pitches to the 30 batters she faced, and 87 were strikes.
The defense only stumbled once, and was otherwise error free.
The game figured to be tight and low-scoring, and it was for a while. But the home team never trailed.
NCHS leadoff hitter Desi Robinson opened the bottom of the first with a home run, the start of a remarkable performance. She later homered and doubled in a 3-for-4 day at the plate.
Pineville’s star, leadoff hitter Bailey Henderson, answered to open the third inning, clubbing a solo dinger for a 1-1 stalemate. It didn’t last long.
In the bottom of the fourth, Morgan Robinson (the pitcher’s younger sister) led off with a double and oved to third on a sacrifice bunt that also put the batter on base. Skylar Braxton followed with an RBI single, then Desi Robinson (cousin to Morgan and Maddie) cracked a three-run shot for a 5-1 Lady Chiefs’ advantage.
NCHS padded the lead in its last at-bat, on back-to-back doubles by Desi Robinson and senior standout Cat Stokes, who went 2-for-4.
It was the second two-homer outing in a week for Desi Robinson, who also smashed a pair last Monday in a win over Florien.
Saturday, the Lady Chiefs served notice they were ready for top shelf competition in a nailbiting 6-5, 10-inning loss to No. 5-ranked West Monroe.
Monday, they emphatically showed they’re as good as any team in the state, as the playoffs are about to begin.