For the first time in the history of the LHSAA state softball playoffs the Shreveport-Bossier area has two teams locked in and headed to Sulphur for the LHSAA’s Fast Pitch 96, formerly Fast Pitch 56, before the brackets are even released.

Thanks to the wacky world we live in for 2017, the LHSAA has added five softball divisions for the select teams, so there will be 12, rather than the usual seven, state champions this spring.

In select’s Division I, there are just eight teams, including No. 1 Evangel (22-5) and No. 8 Byrd (4-24), so every team has a ticket punched to Frasch Park, which is sure to be a mad house April 27-29 with 40 additional teams. And let’s don’t even discuss rain, which threw things into a loop there last year forcing the Calvary Lady Cavs to begin their Class 2A championship game on Saturday night and finish on Sunday morning.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to already be headed to Sulphur, but the down side is we don’t get to play for a couple of weeks,” Evangel coach Amanda Juneau said. “We’re putting in a request to be able to scrimmage some teams, but for right now, we’ll just be practicing and playing intrasquad scrimmages.”

The Lady Jackets are seeing their season extended despite winning just four games and going winless in District 1-5A, which will advance all seven teams to the postseason.

“After graduating 12 seniors, Byrd softball has had a rebuilding season. The ladies have worked hard and made huge improvements this season,” Byrd coach Kristen Cole said. “As the coach of this young team, I am excited they will get to experience the excitement and hype that's involved with the state tournament.

“I can still remember each of our trips to the tournament (Cole played at Huntington) and the memories and lessons we learned on that big of a stage. This experience will grow them in a way that cannot be re-created anywhere in Shreveport.”

Click here to read the rest of The Times article.