Natchitoches Central edges Airline for 1-5A softball crown

DISTRICT CHAMPS, AGAIN:  The Natchitoches Central Lady Chiefs posed for a team photo after holding off Airline to capture the District 1-5A championship. (Photo by DUSTY GRIMES)


Natchitoches Central took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning and survived by throwing out an Airline runner at the plate that would have tied the game in a thrilling 3-2 win Tuesday evening that clinched the Lady Chiefs’ third consecutive District 1-5A softball title.

Airline leadoff hitter Elena Heng came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh inning trailing 3-0. She tripled to centerfield to score Ryan Hutchinson and Addison McDowell. Haley Whiteside tried to score from first base to tie the game but was out at the plate. 

Airline later had the tying run at third base but grounded out to end the contest as an overflow crowd watched on the NCHS campus.

Maddie Robinson got the win in the circle for the Lady Chiefs and hit a fifth inning home run to give Natchitoches Central a 3-0 lead. Robinson allowed two hits, uncharacteristically walked seven and struck out 10. Her cousin Desi Robinson was 2-for-3, stole two bases and drove in a run in the two-run NCHS third inning.

Taylor Anne Smith suffered the loss for visiting Airline (19-7, 6-1) allowing three hits and one earned run as she struck out five, but also walked five.

Natchitoches Central, rated No. 4 in the LHSAA Division I power ratings, is now 22-3, 7-0.  Airline is No. 8 in the ratings. Playoffs are still a couple of weeks away.