These are heady days for sports at Converse High School.
The Ladycats swept to the LHSAA Non-Select Division V state softball championship last weekend in Sulphur. The second-seeded Wildcats play at home this evening at 6 against No. 7 Weston, with a spot in the state baseball semifinals at stake.
The softball team (25-7), seeded fourth in its playoff bracket, had advanced to the state tournament with an intense 4-2 home win over fifth-seeded Anacoco.
“My goal was to try to get them to Sulphur, get them to experience that atmosphere,” said first-year coach Chris Brumley, who previously had coached the baseball team at Zwolle. “We had a really great crowd for our quarterfinal game against Anacoco. It was electric, and that, I believe, helped us handle the atmosphere at Sulphur. We had been in a very intense game.”
It got equally exciting last Friday in the state semifinal game against ninth-seeded Choudrant, with Converse pulling out a 3-1 victory on a bottom of the seventh, walk-off two-run homer by Avery Prine.
That propelled the Ladycats into the state championship contest against No. 2-ranked Quitman, and it was a classic with two dominant pitchers and two determined teams. The contest went into extra innings and Converse prevailed 2-1 in nine innings to win it all.
The Lady Wolverines jumped on top with a first-inning run. Converse tied it in the top of the fourth when Summer Brumley doubled, and pinch-runner Reagan Bennett scored on Maci Morgan’s sacrifice bunt. It was the first run scored on Quitman in the playoffs.
“When we tied it up, I told my team ‘it’s going to be a close game. This is to our advantage, and it’s going to work out for us. We just got to do what we need to do, execute what we need to execute.”
“We went to extra innings a couple of weeks ago against Parkway, a 5A team, and we won that 3-2. We had been successful in close games and in extra innings, and that helped us,” said Brumley.
In the top of the ninth, Prine delivered her third hit, a single to left. Courtesy runner Zoey Rabon moved up on sacrifice bunts by Morgan and Kraegan Jordan, and with two out, Abby Friday delivered the go-ahead RBI with a single to left field.
Prine and the Ladycats retired Quitman 1-2-3 in the bottom half to seal the state championship. Prine finished with 17 strikeouts and allowed only three hits.
“My pitcher definitely was spectacular on the weekend. She struck out nearly everyone, and she drove in our runs at the plate,” said Brumley. “Everybody did their part.”
Two seniors, shortstop Rayni Rivers and third baseman Willa Grigston, provided steady leadership and production and will be missed.
“We’ll have most of the starters returning. We had a seventh grader in the infield, and two eighth-graders in the outfield,” said Brumley. “We’ll have a chance to have another very successful season if we come back and work like I know these girls are going to do.”
It was the third softball state championship for Converse, to go with titles in 1978 and 1994. The Ladycats were in the state semifinals in 2017.
“Converse traditionally does go deep into the playoffs, not only in softball but in other sports. Right now we’re hoping our baseball team can keep going into the state tournament and maybe we’ll need to have a parade for two championship teams,” said Brumley.
Florien was eliminated in the state semifinals, 4-0, by Quitman.
In baseball, Many played second-seeded South Beauregard on the road and put up quite a fight before dropping a pair of 3-1 decisions last weekend in the second round of the Non-Select Division III baseball bracket.
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