WALKER – Walker’s Lainee Bailey came this close to throwing a no-hitter in the LadyCats’ first-round Class 5A playoff game with East Ascension.
The best part of it for Walker coach Hali Westmoreland Fletcher is that Bailey didn’t know it was happening at the time.
Bailey finished with a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts, giving up a one-out single in the top of the seventh, and Walker used a six-run fifth inning to key a 7-1 win over the Lady Spartans at Randy Bradshaw Field on Friday.
“We preach that to the whole pitching staff,” Westmoreland Fletcher said of Bailey’s approach in the circle. “I’m not worried about what just happened. I’m not worried about what’s going to happen. I’m focused on each pitch, each batter, and I’m going to trust my defense. She did a great job with that.”
The No. 8 seeded Walker travels to face No. 24 Captain Shreve, a 14-9 upset winner over No. 9 Central, in the regional round.
The LadyCats (22-9) padded a 1-0 lead, breaking the game open in the fifth after Madelyn Bourgoyne walked and Bree Brown reached on an error, setting up Gyvan Hammons’ single past first for a 3-0 lead.
“We started off slow, but they (Walker players) were making adjustments,” Westmoreland Fletcher said. “They were talking to each other without us even having to critique what they’re doing, and to us, that’s a good sign. We were excited about that. They’re learning. They’re making progress, even now.”
Laynie Jones was hit by a pitch, Alayna Daigrepont walked to load the bases, and Bailey grounded to third, setting up a fielder’s choice which cut down a runner at the plate.
The LadyCats made up for that when Ryann Schexnayder cracked a three-run double to left field for a 6-0 lead and motored into third on the throw and Haleigh Pourciau doubled to right to push the lead to 7-0.
“Just get up there, look for your pitch and just hit,” Schexnayder said. “That’s all I think – ‘Just look for your pitch.’ It was middle-outside. It was my pitch. I was ready.”
EA’s Endya Gillard and Jada Goodlow reached on errors to start the sixth inning, and after Rebecca Burke grounded to second to move the runners over, Ali Burt grounded back to Bailey, who threw to third to get an out.
Rachel Ducote reached on an error, pushing across EA’s lone run before Bailey struck out Brynnen Gautreau to end the inning.
Bailey said some advice from her coach helped her during the rough patch.
“Just to relax and let my defense work behind me,” Bailey said.
Walker loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on Jones’ single, Daigrepont’s double and a walk to Bailey, but Schexnayder grounded out to short to end the inning.
Brown made a diving catch in left field to rob Landrey Gautreau of a potential hit for the first out in the top of the seventh, but Carly Ross got the Lady Spartans' lone hit, dropping a single into short right field.
Raven Turner walked, Gillard grounded to second, and Goodlow followed with a shot up the middle, which hit an EA runner, ending the game.
Bailey started strong, striking out eight over the first four innings, and Walker got the game’s first run after Daigrepont walked to lead off the fourth, and courtesy runner Mackenzie Spangler scored on Hammons’ single past third.