JONESBORO -- Ville Platte all-star pitching machine head coach Nick Fontenot knew his team was going to give battle every step of the way at the Dixie Youth State Tournament that began here Thursday afternoon, but even he was a tad surprised at the way his team performed in the first three games of the tourney.
The All-Stars ended pool play with a perfect 3-0 record and earned their way to the championship bracket which began Saturday morning.
“This team has always given everything they’ve had on the field game in and game out,” stated Fontenot. “These last three games just proves what hard work and dedication can do for a team. Coming into the tournament, I was a little concerned about the hitting. But, through the first three games and especially these last two games, we have hit the ball really hard and are hardly striking out.”
“Defensively, we are still a little unsteady,” Fontenot continued. “But, we are playing on turf fields which makes for a different bounce as the ball gets to you. We have to just keep pounding away and make sure the foot stays on the pedal if we expect to make a run at the title.”
Ville Platte was scheduled to begin bracket play on Saturday against Haughton, the first place team out of Pool A. Bracket play is double elimination. The Gazette will have full coverage of the remaining Ville Platte games in Thursday’s edition.
“Haughton is a tough opponent for our first bracket game,” said Fontenot. “They are very similar to us. It should be a good game.”
Ville Platte began the state tournament on Thursday with a 13-3 win over Minden. In that game, the All-Stars collected 12 hits and held Minden to only five hits the entire game.
Ville Platte took the early 4-0 lead after one inning of play. Payton Veillon, Layne Gremillion and Brayden Ortego all picked up base hits in the at bat.
Minden found a way to pick up a single run in the top of the second inning to cut the lead down to three. However, Ville Platte matched that score in the bottom half of the inning when Sully Manuel singled and then scored after back-to-back hits by Aiden Benoit and Jax Fontenot.
Minden sliced into the lead once again in the top of the third by adding a solo run. After Ville Platte came up empty in the bottom of the third, the All-Stars held Minden scoreless in the top of the fourth.
Ville Platte added another run in the bottom of the fourth when Kendarious Doucet came across the plate after a triple off of the bat of Landon Fontenot, making it a 6-2 game.
Minden put up another run in the top of the fifth. Ville Platte came back in the bottom half of the inning to blast the ball for seven runs on three hits to pick up the run-rule win.
Drama filled the air in game two for the All-Stars, as they squeezed past East Ouachita in a thrilling 8-7 victory Friday morning.
Just as they had in the first game, Ville Platte took the lead after one inning of play, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first and holding East Ouachita scoreless in the top half of the inning.
In the second inning, the All-Stars added another run to their total to make it a 4-0 game.
East Ouachita responded in the top of the third inning, plating five runs of their own and holding the All-Stars scoreless in the bottom half of the inning to take over the lead.
Not to be outdone, Ville Platte reversed the direction of the game, stopping East Ouachita in the top of the fourth inning and adding three more runs to go up 7-5. In that at bat, Brecken Figueiredo, Gremillion and Veillon would all score, as Figueiredo singled and Gremillion doubled to aid in the cause.
After a scoreless fifth inning, East Ouachita put up two more runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game up at 7-7. All Ville Platte needed was one more run in their final at bat to come away with the win. And they got it when Jax Fontenot singled and came home to score on a fielder’s choice by Aiden Lambright and a number of throwing errors by the East Ouachita defense.
Ville Platte’s final pool game came on Friday afternoon against Alexandria. The All-Stars already knew that they were going to be the number one seed coming out of their pool, but they wanted to make sure that they stayed perfect in the tournament. Ville Platte made sure of that in a big way, taking home a 17-9 win over the Rapides parish all-stars.
Ville Platte came out swinging away, plating seven runs in the top of the first inning on five hits. Alexandria also caught fire at the plate, knocking home five runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Alexandria took over the lead in the second inning, blanking the All-Stars and then collecting two more runs. However, Ville Platte would not go away as they put up four big runs in the top of the third to take an 11-8 lead.
Ville Platte finished out the game with a 6-1 advantage over the next two innings to seal the win and keep their record perfect in the tournament.