Lake Arthur (9-14) at Sterlington (20-12), Friday, 5 p.m.
Vying for their first State Tournament bid since 2012, the Sterlington Lady Panthers entertain Lake Arthur on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Class 2A state softball playoffs.
A No. 22 seed, the Lady Tigers upset No. 11 Mamou 3-2 Wednesday afternoon in a matchup of District 4-2A rivals.
Coach Jennifer Hickman of No. 6 seed Sterlington understands that rankings are meaningless at this juncture. After all, Hickman guided Bastrop to the State Tournament as a No. 22 seed just two years ago.
Like Bastrop in 2015, the Lady Tigers (9-14) will have to win back-to-back road games in order to confirm their reservations to Sulphur.
Down 2-1 in the top of the sixth Wednesday, Lake Arthur scored two runs off of an errant throw to pull of the upset. Mamou swept the Lady Tigers 6-0 and 12-2 in district play.
With Sterlington playing on Tuesday, Hickman was able to attend the Lake Arthur-Mamou game.
"My biggest concern is their pitching," Hickman said. "Their pitcher is not overpowering, but she has a good off-speed pitch and change-up. She threw those two pitches more than she threw her fastball Wednesday. We are going to have to be disciplined and stay back."
With only five upperclassmen (one senior, four juniors) on its roster, Lake Arthur is youth-laden. Junior center fielder and leadoff batter Jamara Levy caught Hickman's attention Wednesday.
"To me, their best player is their center fielder," Hickman said. "She's athletic and has a good arm."
Sterlington (20-12) eased to a 16-0 first-round win over Lakeview.
Hickman is expecting more of a challenge Friday.
"My girls are going to have to come out ready to play," Hickman said. "It's going to depend on which team decides to show up."
Sterlington will send junior right-hander Breanna Sylvestri or sophomore left-hander Tanner Wilson to the circle against Lake Arthur.
Sylvestri (7-7, 1 save, 2.83 ERA, 16 starts) has struck out 38 while walking 26 through 74 innings.
Tanner Wilson (6-5, 2 saves, 2.28 ERA, 9 starts) has allowed 62 hits over 73.2 innings, with 53 punchouts and 28 walks.
Also available is freshman right-hander Madigan Stevens (7-0, 2 saves, 2.47 ERA, 7 starts), who has surrendered 42 hits with 36 strikeouts against 23 walks in 51 innings.
Freshman shortstop K.B. Briley and junior third baseman Catherine Trichell are the Lady Panthers' offensive mainstays.
Briley leads the team in batting (.389), on base percentage (.487), hits (37), doubles (11), RBI (35), runs scored (40) and stolen bases (18). Equally impressive, she has struck out only five times in 118 plate appearances.
Trichell is hitting at a .376 clip, with a .426 on base percentage and a .656 slugging rate, seven home runs and 32 runs batted in. She leads the team in homers, RBI and slugging.
Leadoff batter Tanner Wilson, who doubles as a right fielder, is batting .351 with a .474 on base clip, 27 runs scored and a team-high 22 walks.
Center fielder Sydnee Davis — the Lady Panthers' lone senior — is batting .333 with a .479 on base percentage and 24 runs.
Among the other Lady Panthers to watch at the plate are Sylvestri (.333/.421/.519, 2 HR, 4 3B, 30 R, 13 SB), Stevens (.306/.390/.528, 2 HR, 8 RBI), junior catcher Rebekah Wood (.295 BA, 13 RBI), junior first baseman Amber Parnell (.282 BA, 16 RBI), junior second baseman Carson Lyon (.317 OBP, 2 HR, 17 RBI), freshman second baseman Carly Wilson (.324 BA, .409 OBP, 9 RBI) and junior left fielder Jada Smith (.362 OBP).
Friday's winner will advance to play No. 14 Fisher or No. 3 Doyle in a best-of-three quarterfinal series, starting Thursday, April 27 at Frasch Park in Sulphur.
CLASS 2A PLAYOFF GLANCE
No. 1 Rosepine 30, Mentorship 0
No. 17 Oakdale 3, French Settlement 2 (9 innings)
No. 9 Pickering 12, Bunkie 0
No. 8 Kinder 10, No. 25 Welsh 0
No. 5 Rapides 10, No. 28 Northeast 0
No. 12 DeQuincy 13, No. 21 South Plaquemines 2
No. 13 Delcambre 8, No. 20 North Caddo 2
No. 4 Mangham 15, No. 29 Pine 0
No. 3 Doyle 19, No. 30 Rayville 4
No. 14 Fisher 14, No. 19 Madison Prep 4
No. 22 Lake Arthur 3, No. 11 Mamou 2
No. 6 Sterlington 16, No. 27 Lakeview 0
No. 7 Loreauville 22, No. 26 Jonesboro-Hodge 1
No. 10 Lakeside 6, No. 23 Vinton 3
No. 15 Springfield 17, No. 18 Red River 0
No. 2 Many 15, No. 31 West St. Mary 0
Rosepine 7, Oakdale 0
Pickering at Kinder (Friday, 6 p.m.)
DeQuincy at Rapides (Friday, 5:30 p.m.)
Delcambre at Mangham (Friday, 5:30 p.m.)
Fisher at Doyle (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.)
Lake Arthur at Sterlington (Friday, 5 p.m.)
Lakeside at Loreauville (Friday, 5:30 p.m.)
Springfield at Many (Thursday, 4 p.m.)
Thursday-Friday, April 27-28
At Frasch Park
Rosepine vs. Pickering-Kinder winner
DeQuincy-Rapides winner vs. Delcambre-Mangham winner
Fisher-Doyle winner vs. Lake Arthur-Sterlington winner
Lakeside-Loreauville winner vs. Springfield-Many winner
Semifinals & Finals
Saturday, April 29