SOFTBALL

Do or die

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Ascension Catholic's Lauren Landry. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The regular season was fun, but now it’s time to get down to business.

Softball teams across the parish wrapped up their schedules this week, and now, they prepare themselves for the playoffs.

No longer will they talk about winning a state title; they’ll get out on the field and compete for one.

They can no longer brush off a loss and say, “We’ll get it tomorrow,” because there is no tomorrow. One crucial error, one bad pitch, one bad at-bat can equate to one loss—and that’s all that’s needed to end their season and their championship aspirations.

All of the teams in the parish have their eyes set on Sulphur and the LHSAA Softball Fast Pitch 56 tournament.

Like any year, St. Amant is hoping they can be that one Ascension team to break through and bring home a championship. If they do, it will be their sixth state title, but it would be their first since 2006.

The Lady Gators feel that they have some unfinished business to attend to after being dropped from the quarterfinals last year—a year in which they ended the regular season on a 19-game winning streak.

St. Amant is hot again this season. They head into the playoffs winners of 15 straight games and 20 of their last 21.

The Lady Gator offense has been as potent as ever with the hot bats of Taylor Tidwell, Abby McKey, Pamela Carbo, Jadyn Rumfellow and McKenzie King.

The only question mark heading into the postseason will be their pitching.

After a rough start to the season, first-year head coach Amy Pitre found a gem in freshman hurler Alyssa Romano. Romano has flourished—going 19-2 as a starter.

As good as she has been, it will be interesting to see if she can maintain her exceptional play in the playoffs. The postseason is a whole different animal.

If St. Amant can get solid pitching from her, they have just as good of a chance as anyone to take another state title.

Their district counterpart, Dutchtown, will be an interesting team to watch as they head into the playoffs.

The Lady Griffins had some crucial pieces to replace this season and they faced a very challenging schedule. Still, they will head into the playoffs with a 19-14 (published prior to their final game) record.

The Lady Griffins like being the underdog. That’s how it was back in 2015, when they reached the state title game.

Dutchtown headed into that postseason in a funk, but they turned that around quickly. They caught fire and rode the momentum all the way to the championship game, where they fell just two runs short against Sam Houston.

One of their top leaders on this year’s team was a starter in that title game. Baton Rouge Community College signee Blayne Pence will be leading the charge for the Lady Griffins, along with big-time hitters in Hannah Martin, Kennedy Page, Miranda Patterson and Denae Lowe.

Like St. Amant, pitching will be the question.

Dutchtown lost four-year starter and Southeastern signee Ali McCoy. She was their ace during their 2015 state runner-up finish.

Ascension Catholic was the parish squad to make it the furthest in last year’s playoffs. They reached the state semifinals, before losing to eventual champion Catholic of Pointe Coupee. It was the fourth straight season they made it to the state tournament.

This year, things will be different for the Lady Bulldogs. They will now be competing in the newly-formed Division IV against other select schools.

No matter whom their opponents may be, they’ll have to depend on their pitching growing up in a hurry.

Under Don Henry, Ascension Catholic has had to lean on four freshmen from the circle, after their All-State ace Julia Beck graduated.

The Lady Bulldogs have the bats. Bailey Acosta, Lauren Landry, Isabelle Abadie and Alicia Canatella have all been able to provide ample offense throughout the year.

One thing Ascension Catholic will be able to lean on heading into the postseason is their strength of schedule.

In addition to winning their district, the Lady Bulldogs faced a plethora of strong non-district opponents. In fact, they finished the year undefeated against 1A teams. All of their losses were to upper-classification heavyweights.