Young Lady Griffins expecting to surprise again

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown sophomore Alexi Reynolds returns after earning all-district while going 17-9 with a 2.95 ERA.

GEISMAR - Dutchtown may have surprised teams last season. Coming off a losing record and a fifth-place finish in district, the Lady Griffins reeled off a 7-3 mark in the new District 6-5A and tied

East Ascension for second-place. Dutchtown then advanced to the regionals playoffs before falling to defending state champion Ruston, 3-0.

“We had four seniors,” Dutchtown head coach Nancy Ensminger said. “I think that leadership helped last year. Plus that was my second year with the program so  we got used to each other and I think that led to our success too. This year, we don’t have any seniors and I feel like we are still young. We have three starters that were sophomores last year and my pitcher and catcher were only freshmen last year.”

Dutchtown loses three all-district performers in Nicholls State signee Logan Johnson, Lexi Champagne and Anna Vickers. Johnson batted a team-high .446 overall with nine home runs, 41 RBIs and 30 runs, while Vickers hit .290 with 19 RBIs and 17 runs and Champagne led the team with 10 stolen bases and 36 runs. 

Dutchtown’s youth is evident just by looking at their roster. The Lady Griffins have no seniors.

“I have a lot of young kids that are just moving up to high school,” Ensminger said. “That is going to weakness until it becomes a strength and they understanding how the program works and my philosophy. I don’t know how this is year is going to pan out but hopefully we will be pretty successful.”

“Having kids that have been playing with me for three years is a strength. That is going to help those that have never played for me make the adjustment and transition but have to get games under my belt to pin point our strengths this year.”

PITCHING STAFF - Sophomore right hander Alexi Reynolds returns to the circle for the Lady Griffins after a breakout freshmen year in which she earned first-team all-district recognition after registering a 17-9 record with a 2.95 ERA, while striking out 125 in 154 1/3 innings.

“We’ve got strength in the circle,” Ensminger said. “(Alexi) is pretty smart and has a lot of movement. Having a pitcher that has been in the circle as a freshmen helps. She has good speed and she can hit her spots. This year, we will have somebody behind her. We didn’t have anybody behind her last year and that was scary but she got us through the season.”

Freshmen Amanda Vicknair is expected to provide depth to the Lady Griffins’ pitching staff.

LINEUP - The Lady Griffins return four all-district performers in junior third baseman Justine Tureau, junior first baseman Hannah Bergeron, junior left fielder MacKenzie Kohler and sophomore catcher Jade Bourgeois. Dutchtown also welcomes another all-district selection in Faydra Hall, a transfer from East Ascension, who will play in center field.

Bourgeois was second on the team with a .405 batting average, five home runs, 28 RBIs and 22 runs last season, while Tureau scored 10 runs and had seven RBIs, Kohler had seven RBIs and nine runs and Bergeron had one home run and four RBIs. Hall batted .260 with five RBIs, three runs and three stolen bases.

“(Bourgeois) is definitely a big key to our success last year offensively and defensively and hopefully it extends into the next three years,” Ensminger said. “Our outfield is strong but our infield is going to be young. That might be a bad thing or a good thing. We have a few good hitters on the team.I think we will be able to put runs on the board. We have really good freshmen that have good form and knowledge of the game. They have been playing ball a long time. We have a lot of young talent coming into the program.”

Vicknair will be the Lady Griffins shortstop, while either junior Averi Parnell or freshmen Hayden Wood will be at second base. Junior Amy Vickers returns in right field and freshmen Carey Alexis will provide depth in the outfield and at catcher and third base. Freshmen Gabby Reynolds will be the pinch runner.

SCHEDULE - Ensminger took a competitive schedule from last season and added to it. Dutchtown opens by hosting Class 3A quarterfinalist Lutcher, Class 1A semifinalist Ascension Catholic and Class 5A state champion Mount Carmel before traveling to Class 5A quarterfinalist Central. The Lady Griffins then participate in the Coach “I” Tournament before traveling to regionalist West Feliciana (3A). Dutchtown then hosts runner-up Live Oak (4A) and the Dutchtown Tournament before entering district play. The Lady Griffins also travel to the Sulphur and Lutcher tournaments during district.

“Our schedule is tough,” Ensminger said. “Everybody on schedule is a pretty tough team. It is going to make us a better team and hopefully successful. We will have a lot of games played when we get into district. We competed last year and we plan to compete this year.”

In District 6-5A play, the Lady Griffins face semifinalist St. Amant, regionalist East Ascension and Hahnville, Destrehan and East St. John.

OUTLOOK - Ensminger said the keys to success for the Lady Griffins will be communication.

“The key is getting them to play together,” Ensminger said. “The chemistry between them is going to be the key to success. If they are not confident in themselves or each other that can be a problem but as long as I can get them to be cohesive in everything we do, we will be successful.

“I hope our schedule will prepare us for district and we can be successful so we can make it to the playoffs. One of the big goals is to make it to the state tournament and I think we will be prepared for making it. I expect to be successful.”

Dutchtown sophomore catcher Jade Bourgeois earned first-team all-district after batting .405 with five home runs and 28 RBIs last season.