2016 - Lady Bengals win fourth title
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth of a 12-story series celebrating LSUE’s baseball and softball national championships.
The 2016 Lady Bengals lost three times in the post season to Jones County Junior College, but LSU Eunice won the last battle to capture its fourth NJCAA Division II national championship.
“They improved all year and battled to get their way all the way to the championship,” former head coach Andy Lee said. “That team just perservered all year.
“Early on, I didn’t think that team had the depth or the talent to do it, but they got better as the season went on.
“They fought and battled for each other,” Lee said. “There was great team chemistry that carried us all year.
“Maybe the sophomores had a chip on their shoulders after not making it last year as the number one team in the nation, but I think they really wanted to make it back to Clinton.”
The 2015 team finished 46-6 overall, but went 0-2 in the Region 23 tournament.
“It was a very talented team but we had a couple of key injuries late in that season and we didn’t play well at all in the regional tournament,” Lee said.
The Lady Bengals were the host team of the 2016 Region 23 tournament and LSUE opened with a 4-3 win over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
The top-ranked Lady Bengals fell 4-2 to Jones but rebounded with an 8-4 victory over East Central Community College.
LSUE lost 5-2 to Jones in the regional championship game, but the Lady Bengals advanced to its sixth national tournament berth.
The Lady Bengals opened the World Series with a stunning 16-0 run-rule victory over Mott Community College.
The onslaught started early with a two-run triple by Bobbi Smith in the first inning.
Jessica Thomas put the Bengals up six points in the third with a bases loaded three-RBI double, part of a five run third inning.
LSUE scratched across nine runs in the fourth inning that included a Thomas grand slam and Rebecca Skains three-run home run.
Abigail Leonards and Jordan Dougherty combined for a 3-hit shutout, striking out five batters and walking two.
LSU Eunice cruised in the second round with a 10-1 run rule win over Des Moines Area Community College.
Jordan Hartman provided a three-run home run in the sixth inning, while Smith and Molly Wilson each added home runs in the rout.
LSUE’s third game of the tournament was a 3-2 extra inning thriller over LaBette Community College as Alli Daigle provided the heroics in the bottom of the ninth with a RBI single to centerfield.
Daigle’s game winner was set up by a Rebecca Skains base hit as she scored the walk-off run
LSUE was in an early hole before Jordan Bertot responded with a home run to tie the game at 1-1 in the third inning.
LSUE then avoided disaster with Jeannemarie Angelle’s sacrifice fly RBI to tie the game again, 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
The excitement contined with another other walk-off win for the Lady Beng against their Region 23 rival Jones County JC.
After Andy Lee was ejected for arguing a controversial call, Hartman broke a tie with a two-run walk-off home run in the seven to take down the Wildcats, 4-2.
LSUE trailed 2-0 before Skains and Smith ripped a pair of solo homers to tie the game n the sixth inning.
Leonards had a complete game as she gave up six hits and two earned runs while striking out a pair of batters and walking one.
LSUE then faced Jones County again in the championship finals – with out Lee’s leadership.
Jones County handed LSU Eunice its first loss of the tournament to force a winner-take-all in the championship.
The Bengals were limited to jump four hits in a 9-0 shutout setback.
It was just the second time in 2016 that LSU Eunice had been held scoreless.
Jones County scored all of its runs in the first four innings highlighted by a three-run home run in the fourth.
But the final game of the season proved to be one of the best for the Lady Bengals as LSUE rolled for a 12-4 win and their fourth national title.
Jones jumped out to 1-0 lead in the first inning before the Lady Bengals answered with two runs in the top of the second, sparked by a double by Angelle who scored on a hit by Hartman.
Hartman scored on a double by Jaci Lavigne to give LSUE a 2-1 advantage.
Skains opened the second inning with a solo home run, while Smith walked and Angelle followed with a single.
Molly Wilson belted a three-run home run to push the Lady Bengals ahead, 6-1,
Jones closed the gap to 6-4 in the bottom of the inning, sparked by a three-run home run by Kelly Byrd.
LSUE added a run in the top of the fourth when Lavigne singled and scored as Maddie Edmonston reached on an error.
The Lady Bengals sealed the championship with five runs in the top of the sixth inning, begun when Lavigne singled, Maddie Edmonston doubled and Skains followed with her second home run of the game.
Daigle kept the rally going with a single and Angelle blasted another home run to extend the Lady Bengals’ lead to 12-4.
After allowing four runs in three innings, the LSUE defense stiffened and only gave up two hits over the final four innings to seal the win.
Leonards improved her record to 24-4 on the season after tossing the first 4.1 innings.
Leonards scattered four runs off of four hits while not allowing a walk.
Dougherty finished the job with 2.2 innings of relief of scoreless ball while striking out three batters.
“We played them six times that season,” Lee said of the battles withJones County. “We won three and lost three – I knew it would a battle to win against them
“After losing 9-0 in thefirst game, I think watching the emotions of both teams, our girls wanted it a little more in that second game.”
While the Lady Bengals exploded for 45 runs, LSUE held their opponents to 18 runs over the six games.
LSUE freshman Abigail Leonards was named Oustanding Pitcher of the tournament as she pitched in all six games.
Leonards allowed 12 runs on 32 hits with seven walks and seven strikeouts.
Lady Bengal freshman Skains hit four home runs and drove in eight runs on 14 hits over five games with 12 RBI and was named both the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player and Most Valuable Player.
The 2016 team finished 58-8 overall and had three NJCAA All-Americans: Skains, Edmonston and Bishop.
Skains finished third in the country with 25 home runs, while Edmonston was fifth with 44 stolen bases.
Bishop finished seventh in the nation with 80 RBIs.
As a team LSUE finished second in the ccountry with 146 steals.
The Lady Bengals finished fifth in the nation with 88 home runs.
2016 Tournament Awards
Most Valuable Player:
Most Oustanding Offensive Player: Rebecca Skains
Most Outstanding Pitcher:
All-Tournament Team: Jordan Hartman, Bobbi Smith, and Molly Wilson
Coach of the Year:
2016 LSUE roster
1 IF Olivia Gabor
2 C Jessica Thomas
3 IF Hannah Vidallier
4 IF Mary Guillory
5 IF Jaci Lavigne
6 OF Kristyn Fairchild
7 P/IF Molly Wilson
8 IF Alli Daigle
9 OF Jeannemarie Angelle
10 OF Madison Edmonston
11 IF Jordan Hartman
12 OF Bobbi Smith
13 P Jordan Dougherty
14 P Abigail Leonards
15 OF Mallory Perrault
16 IF Rebecca Skains
17 IF Abby Mondy
18 P Savannah Cates
19 IF Savannah Lejeune
20 IF Darby Bishop
21 IF Kaitlyn Bertot
22 C Logan Thomas
23 IF Hope Vizinat
24 P Elizabeth Fontenot
Andy Lee – Head Coach
Haley Mccall – Assistant Coach
Lana Bowers – Assistant Coach
Up Next: The 2017 LSUE softball national championship revisited