All roads lead to Sulphur: Iowa, Sam Houston seek titles

Published 9:58 am Friday, April 29, 2022

The goal is the same this weekend for Sam Houston and Iowa: win a state championship.

The postseason path that brought them to North Frasch Park is vastly different.

The topped-ranked Yellow Jackets (26-6) have played the part, riding the arm of pitcher Arlee Darbonne and the big bats of Kamryn Howard and Kamryn Broussard. Darbonne hasn’t given up a run or hit in the playoffs with a pair of no-hitters.

“I think they are ready,” Iowa head coach Kenzie Singletary said. “They have built up enough momentum to keep pushing. They are pretty relaxed and confident. We are ready to play ball.”

Iowa is hoping for a chance to atone for last year’s loss to Jena in the Class 3A final, but first has to get past its rematch with No. 4 Grant (25-7) at 4 p.m. today in the semifinals.

“The roles are reversed this year,” Singletary said. “Last year we were No. 4 and they were No. 1. They are the ones coming in ready to attack. We just have to make sure we play like the No. 1 seed and make sure we play like we are supposed to.

“We are going to have to hit really well. They are a good hitting team, and their offense is solid. We are going to have to get enough runs to have a little cushion.”

While the Yellow Jackets are looking for their first state championship, Class 5A No. 8 Sam Houston (25-8) has won five, but it has been a while since its last in 2015.

The Broncos are back in Sulphur for the first time since 2018 thanks to a pair of huge rallies. In the regional round, Sam Houston fell behind No. 9 Natchitoches Central (21-9) 5-2 before pulling off a 6-5 win, highlighted by a tying three-run home run by Lexi Dibbley.

Freshman Carolina Eidson drove in the go-ahead run in the regional round and hit a two-run tying hit in the quarterfinals to help the Broncos upset No. 1 Pineville (33-3) 4-3 in eight innings after trailing by two runs early.

“I definitely think it is a good thing,” Sam Houston head coach Beth Domingue said. “I will take it. It is good to know we have been there and come out on top multiple times.

“They are just fighters. They don’t give up. It is pretty cool to watch and be a part of it. This is our first time back since it has been just semifinals and finals. I am excited. None of our girls have been there, but I am fine with that. We have done well with just staying simple and playing ball.”

Sam Houston will face No. 4 West Monroe (26-5) at 4 p.m. today. The Rebels knocked off defending state champion Barbe (24-7) 9-8 in the quarterfinals.

“They are good,” Domingue said of the Rebels. “They can swing it. They have had a solid program for a while now. I am expecting a good game.”