Pitre embraces change at St. Amant

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
In her time at East Ascension, Amy Pitre led the Lady Spartans to 202 victories. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

After a month-long search, St. Amant has a new head coach, and though she may be new to the program, she’s no stranger to the fierce competitiveness of Ascension softball.

Last week, St. Amant hired Amy Pitre to be the new leader of their program. Pitre had been coaching archrival East Ascension for nearly a decade prior to the move.

“It’s really an honor to have this opportunity,” Pitre said. “St. Amant has such a great tradition. I’m honored and excited to have the opportunity to try to keep that going.”

Much of the Lady Gators’ rich winning tradition was sparked by Pitre’s predecessor Scott Nielson.

After coaching St. Amant for 14 years and leading them to the Fast Pitch 56 state tournament in Sulphur for the 13th time in his tenure, Nielson resigned last month.

In his stint as head coach, the Lady Gators won 415 games and four state titles. They have not lost a district contest in five years.

Nielson said that he felt it was the right time to walk away.

“You just know when it’s time,” Nielson said. “We had a great run while we were there. We had a lot of success, and we got a lot of support from the school, the parents and the community, but I just felt that it was time to pass it on and do other things outside of coaching. I want to spend more time with my family.”

Like Nielson, Pitre felt that it was time for a change.

“I just want to say that I loved my time at East Ascension. I loved the administration; I loved the kids,” Pitre said. “I just felt that it was time for me to move on and go to another great program in St. Amant. It definitely wasn’t the easiest decision to make. I made some great friends at East Ascension. I was able to work with some great people.”

St. Amant was looking for a seasoned and accomplished head coach, and they have one with Pitre.

She coached for two years at East St. John before taking the job at East Ascension.

In her nine years with the Lady Spartans, she won 202 games and led them to the Fast Pitch 56 five times in the past seven years. In 2015, East Ascension reached the state semifinals.

This past season, the Lady Spartans finished in a two-way tie with Dutchtown for second in the district. They reached the second round of the playoffs before dropping a one-run heartbreaker to top-seeded and eventual state champion Alexandria.

Last week was quite exciting for Pitre. On Thursday, she was hired by St. Amant, and over the weekend, she was in Oklahoma City watching former player Bailey Landry and LSU compete in the Women’s College World Series.

Claire Weinberger, another one of Pitre’s star players at East Ascension, is also on her way to play at LSU.

And now that Pitre makes the move to St. Amant, she’ll once again coach a player bound for LSU. One of the Lady Gators’ best returning stars is junior Taylor Tidwell—who committed to the Lady Tigers as a sophomore.

Pitre certainly knows what her new team is capable of on the field. She has coached against players like Tidwell, Jadyn Rumfellow and Abby McKey many times over the past few years.

“I have had the opportunity to see them play and coach against them, so I am familiar with them in the softball aspect, but I don’t really know much about them as individuals,” Pitre said. “I’m looking forward to working with them and forming great player-coach relationships. That’s such a big key to the team.”

Pitre said she’s thrilled about taking over the reins as the new St. Amant head coach. Though, she knows things will feel a bit different when the Lady Gators play East Ascension in 2017.

“The first time we play EA, it’ll definitely be weird, because I’ve worn the blue and yellow for so long, but we’ll just have to see,” Pitre said. “I really do wish for East Ascension to have all the success in the world, except when they’re playing St. Amant.”