Carmisha Payton to continue softball career at LSU-Eunice

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Carmisha Payton batted .491 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs while leading East Ascension to the state quarterfinals this year. Photo by Dewey Keller.

Carmisha Payton's softball career isn't over just yet. In fact, it's just getting started.

Last week, the East Ascension standout decided that there were still goals and accomplishments to be achieved as she signed with LSU-Eunice.

Her signing came as a bit of a surprise. Originally, Payton was given a scholarship offer from Southeastern last June. However, she decided that she would attend the school as strictly a student.

Fast forward to almost a year later, and Payton's mindset has completely changed.

The sport means too much to her to abandon it now. She has decided to continue her journey with LSU-E.

"After playing in the state tournament, it just hit me. I just realized that this was going to be my last time playing," Payton said. "I just have such a love for the game, and it felt right to sign with LSU-E."

Payton and her teammates just completed a tremendously-resilient and equally-memorable season that saw them reach the state quarterfinals.

The Lady Spartans went 24-8 and played their way into the State Softball Tournament in Sulphur for the second time in the last three years.

They looked like they were well on their way to the semifinals as they raced out to a 9-1 lead over Ouachita Parish.

Payton was one of the main reasons why they were able to jump out to such a big lead as she crushed an apparent grand slam.

Unfortunately for East Ascension, it was ruled that one of the base-runners didn't touch a bag. She was called out--downgrading Payton's shot to a three-run homer and taking away a crucial run for the Lady Spartans.

The lost score proved to be devastating as Ouachita stormed back and seized an 11-10 victory.

Although her senior season ended on such a sour note, it was still special to Payton.

"It was really fun. I made friends throughout the year that I didn't know before," Payton said. "We had a lot of people doubting us before the season and thinking we were too young because we started five sophomores, but we made it to the state tournament. I built a lot of great friendships, and I'm going to miss my teammates."

Payton's love for her teammates makes the whole process bittersweet.

"It's been really exciting but at the same time, it's been sad that it's the end of high school softball," Payton said. "I'm excited to play at LSU-E. They're really good, but it's sad to move on and lose some friends and teammates."

LSU-E isn't just good, they're the best.

This past weekend, they wrapped up their second straight NJCAA Division II national championship by beating Jones County in back-to-back games. They finished the year with an amazing record of 64-3.

Payton now hopes to be part of their continued success. If her career at East Ascension is any indicator of what kind of player she'll be at the next level, then the Lady Bengals are in good hands.

Payton has been a first-team All-District 5-5A infielder for the past two seasons and this year, she batted a gaudy .491 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs.

"I work hard, and I don't give up," Payton said. "I always find a way to shake things off when they go badly, and I just keep working and pushing through."

She won't be the only Ascension star taking her talents to Eunice.

Payton will be joined by four St. Amant players in Jordan Hartman, Jaci Lavigne, Madison Edmonston and Kayla Braud. Hartman, Lavigne and Edmonston signed at the start of the year, and Braud followed last month.

Payton is looking forward to the five becoming teammates after competing against each other for the past four years.

"It's very exciting because I know all of the girls," Payton said. "I've been playing with a lot of them since I was a little kid, so it's exciting to now be teammates with them. I know they're all great players."

It's been quite a month for Payton. It started with the State Softball Tournament. And though it didn't end the way she wanted it to, things have picked up at the end of the month with graduation and now signing with LSU-E.

She's looking forward to getting back on the field next year to continue her softball career at the next level.

"I'm very anxious," Payton said. "I've played with three girls that were freshmen there this season and will be sophomores next year. I'm excited to play with them again, work hard and try to get the program to nationals again."