ALBANY -- It had been four trips and four season-ending losses for Albany since 2012, including a trio of one-run losses in that span.
The Lady Hornets made sure that wasn't a problem on Monday.
Albany's Brittney Turner hurled a three-hitter, and the Lady Hornets used a five-run 3rd inning to key an 8-2 win over Port Barre to open the Class 3A playoffs with a breakthrough win.
"The last four years, we've had the lead going into the 7th four straight years, only to give it up and lose in extra innings in the same way for four straight years," said Albany coach John Legoria, who reached a personal milestone with his team's 21st win of the season -- the most he's had in a season during his tenure with the Lady Hornets. "So (Monday is) special for us and these ladies, especially these seniors who have gone through that for the last three years and ripped their heart out. Getting that first one (playoff win) is always the toughest one."
Albany's win sets up a regional-round contest with defending Class 3A runner-up Lutcher, a 14-0 winner over Port Allen on Monday. Lutcher hosts Albany at 4 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Hornets (21-8) led 3-1 heading into the bottom of the 3rd, when Annalea Giamalva's fly ball was dropped in right field. Rayanne Ridgel followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Turner was tagged out on a dropped third strike, allowing Giamalva to move to third.
From there, Abby Spring legged out a single to score Giamalva, then stole second to set up Savanna Bourgeois' RBI single for a 5-1 lead. Bourgeois moved to second on the throw, to third on a passed ball and scored when Meredith Cleveland reached on an error.
Consecutive singles by Heather Degenhardt and Shelby Cannon pushed the lead to 7-1, and two straight walks to Kaci Payne and Giamalva stretched the lead to 8-1 before Ridgel popped out to second to end the inning.
"(Port Barre pitcher Anna Disotell) was pitching me a lot of inside pitches, and I talked to Coach Legoria," Cannon said. "He told me to back out of the box a little bit, and I got my hit. It was just working for us (Monday)."
Port Barre cut the lead to 8-2 in the top of the 4th inning on Disotell's RBI double with one out, but Turner struck out Isabella Bass looking and got Lexi Daville to ground out to end the frame.
In the top of the 7th, Turner struck out Grace Chellette and Daville before Morgan Trussell got to second on a throwing error. But Hailey Martinez grounded out to third to end the game.
"Most games, the further I get, the stronger I get," said Turner, who struck out eight and walked three in a complete-game win. "I don't know why it's like that, but that's just how I am."
Martinez got the Lady Devils rolling with a home run to left field on the first pitch of the game.
"We came out, we wanted to score early, because we know if the pitcher gets in a groove, we wouldn't be able to touch her late in the game," Port Barre coach Jordan Taylor said. "We wanted to get ahead early and let our pitcher battle for us, and hopefully our defense would keep us in (and) help us get a few runs here and there."
After the explosive beginning, Turner sandwiched strikeouts of Clairye Savage and Bailee Wyble around and error then got Rebekah Stelly to ground out to end the opening frame.
"After that happens, I'm definitely more aware at that point, because (with) the batters after that, you never know what's going to happen," Turner said of giving up the first-pitch home run. "I just know to stay calm, obviously, to make sure you know you're not letting the other team get to you and just pitch the strikes that you know you can pitch. I didn't pitch that pitch any more after that, and whenever she came back up, I just tried something new, and it ended up working for us."
Albany took the lead for good with a three-run 1st as Degenhardt singled up the middle, stole second, moved to third on Cannon's sacrifice grounder to the pitcher and scored on Payne's single to left.
Giamalva's double to left scored Payne for a 2-1 lead, and Giamalva later scored on Ridgel's sacrifice fly. Turner doubled, but Spring lined out to first to end the inning.
"We were aggressive (Monday)," Legoria said. "We stole a few bases and we got key hits in situations where we hadn't been getting those key hits with runners in scoring position. We ran the bases well and that was key. Our defense played well, and our pitching was well, but it takes a whole team to win a game."
ALBANY 8, PORT BARRE 2
Port Barre 100 100 0 -- 2 3 3
Albany 305 000 x -- 8 9 2
Anna Disotell and Lexi Daville. Brittney Turner and Rayanne Rigdel. W -- Turner (13-3). L -- Disotell. 2B: Port Barre -- Disotell; Albany -- Annalea Giamalva, Turner. HR: Port Barre -- Hailey Martinez. Records: Port Barre 12-18; Albany 21-8. Up next: Albany at Lutcher, 4 p.m. Friday.