Lady Gators are champions once again

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
St. Amant celebrates after beating West Monroe, 10-0, to claim the Class 5A state title.
Aralee Beane celebrates after hitting St. Amant's first home run of the game.
St. Amant wins its fourth state title in four years.

The last time St. Amant played in the Class 5A state title game, the Lady Gators hit one home run. It was a three-run blast by Julia Kramer in the seventh inning that won St. Amant the championship.

Four years later, the Lady Gators were back in Sulphur, completing for another title against West Monroe. And this time around, they blasted four homers.

And on the strength of those home runs, no late-game heroics were needed.

Fueled by the offensive barrage from the plate and a perfect outing by Addison Jackson from the circle, St. Amant rolled to a 10-0 championship victory in just five innings.

It was the Lady Gators' second state title under head coach Amy Pitre.

“It all started back at Butch Gore in February. I asked them, ‘When we were playing at Butch Gore, did you see this coming?’ They laughed. Nothing bothers this team. They’re so young. I told them when we got here that the work had already been done. We weren’t going to fuss or holler at them. I told them to just go out there and have fun. We were here to play for a state championship. And they did.”

St. Amant took command in the second inning. That’s when the Lady Gators hit three two-run home runs.

It all began with a lead-off walk by Carmen Dixon. She was then sent home with a two-run bomb by Aralee Beane.

Next, Makinzey Elisar walked, and she was sent home by a two-run blast by Jackson.

Caterina Byars then came up with a bunt single. Alix Franklin finished off the second-inning flurry with a towering two-run homer over the left-field wall to make it 6-0.

“We only won that inning. We still had a lot of game left after that,” Pitre said. “I told the kids in the dugout that we needed to stay even. We couldn’t get too high or too low. This team could do the same thing the next inning. They’re very capable. We just wanted to win every inning. It was that simple. They said, ‘Ok, Coach.’”

St. Amant added four more runs in the fourth.

Byars reached base on a fielder’s choice, and she was driven home by a Mary Beth Zeller base hit.

Dixon joined Zeller on base following an infield single. Samantha Landaiche then cleared those bases with a three-run homer. 

That was the first home run of Landaiche’s career. Coach Pitre joked that she “doesn’t even hit home runs at practice.”

Up 10-0 in the top of the fifth, Jackson tallied three quick outs to end the game. Jackson didn’t allow a single hit or walk.

St. Amant and West Monroe played during the regular season. The Lady Gators won a close 5-3 contest. But this time around, St. Amant dominated from start to finish.

“Coaches Darrel Landry, Mark Maher and John Bentivegna put together a very good plan that AJ executed to a tee,” Pitre said.

Jackson said that things were much different from when she took the circle against West Monroe during the regular season.

“I was a lot more rested this time around--physically and mentally,” Jackson said. “And I was way more in attack mode. I attacked every single batter. All of my pitches were on point. I spun it better than I’ve spun it all season, and I threw it harder than I’ve thrown it all year.”

Jackson finished the season with more than 300 strikeouts from the circle, and she hit 26 home runs from the plate.

On Saturday, she was 2-3 with a homer and two RBIs.

Franklin, Beane and Landaiche all hit home runs as well. Byars was 2-3.

St. Amant ended the season with 28 straight wins, and the Lady Gators finished with a final record of 31-2.

Saturday’s victory was St. Amant’s second state title in four years. It was the program’s seventh state championship overall.