St. Amant headed to Sulphur for fifth straight year

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
St. Amant celebrates as they make it to Sulphur for the 14th time in the past 15 years. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

Neither the rain nor the lightning could stop St. Amant on Friday night.

The Lady Gators scored six runs in the first two innings and fended off a late Barbe rally to lock up an 11-4 victory and punch their ticket to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 for the 14th time in the past 15 years.

"I was concerned at the start of the game with the rain delay and how that would affect the kids but sometimes, when it rains on your parade, you dance in the rain," St. Amant head coach Scott Nielson said.

It was fitting that a stretch of nasty weather pushed the game back by nearly two hours. Mother Nature has been unkind to the Lady Gators all season.

When the game finally did begin, the state's top seed got right down to business and just when Barbe did chip away at the lead, St. Amant emphatically shut the door on any impending comeback.

"We knew coming in that they were going to be a great team. Each time they scored, I challenged our team to answer," Nielson said. "If you give up one, get it back, and they did an amazing job of doing that tonight, and I couldn't be prouder of the effort the kids put in."

St. Amant got off to a hot start as Kara Gremillion led the game off with a walk and Taylor Tidwell got on with an infield bunt single.

Taylor Trabeaux then continued her hot streak as she blasted a two-RBI double to give the Lady Gators a 2-0 advantage.

They extended the lead with a big second inning.

Jadyn Rumfellow came through with a two-outs single, and Kara Gremillion and Tidwell both walked to load the bases.

Kourtney Gremillion then brought home two runs with an infield single and Abby McKey followed it up with a walk to load the bases once again.

Trabeaux kept the pressure on the Barbe defense as she collected another RBI to help stretch the St. Amant lead to 6-0.

After Barbe scored a run in the third, St. Amant answered right back in the fourth.

With the bases loaded, McKenzie King got on and a run scored after a fielding error to put the lead to 7-1.

Barbe had their biggest inning in the fifth.

After Emily Corman walked, Sade Harmon came through with an RBI single and Ally Crooks and Sarah Katz followed it up with an RBI double each to cut the deficit to 7-4.

That's as close as the Lady Buccaneers would get.

At the bottom of the inning, Rumfellow led off with an infield single and eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by Kourtney Gremillion to make it 8-4.

The Lady Gator offense then had a three-run sixth inning that put things away.

After loading the bases, Victoria Kern walked to send a runner home. Kara Gremillion sent another runner home with a single and Tidwell brought home the Lady Gators' final run with a sacrifice fly.

In the 11-4 victory, Trabeaux went 2-4 with three RBIs while Tidwell went 2-3 with two walks and an RBI. Rumfellow went 2-3.

Gabby Sharp gave up more hits than she has been accustomed to giving up, but she still collected her 22nd win of the season.

The victory pushed St. Amant to a perfect 26-0 as they head to Sulphur for the fifth straight year.

But though they're the only remaining team that is undefeated, their goal is no different than any team in the quarterfinals. They have to win out to take home their first championship in 11 years.

"At this point, anything less than perfect would be disappointing because that means you didn't win a state championship. We're just going to take things one game at a time," Nielson said. "I told the kids that we were going to prepare this week just like we have all year."

St. Amant will play eighth-seeded Denham Springs on Friday evening--a team that went 21-8 during the regular season.

The Lady Gators are hoping for a better output than last year's trip to the quarterfinals--when they were beaten soundly by Pineville.

"The goal was not to get to Sulphur; the goal was to be successful in Sulphur," Nielson said. "The kids are going to work hard, and we're going to do a good job of preparing them and we're just going to let the chips fall where they may."