Lady Gators eyeing state title run

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Jadyn Rumfellow returns as one of St. Amant's top hitters. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Just like any other season, the St. Amant softball team will enter the year with a roster stacked with talent and the title of district champions. However, things are a little different in 2017.

For the first time in over a decade, the Lady Gators will be led by someone other than Scott Nielson.

Just a few days after St. Amant was eliminated in the state quarterfinals, their long-time head coach decided that it was time to walk away. So, after 14 years, 415 victories and four state titles, Nielson resigned.

With his surprising departure, in came a new head coach that the program has grown very familiar with over the years.

Amy Pitre joined the Lady Gators after coaching archrival East Ascension for nine years.

Pitre brings a wealth of experience and accolades to St. Amant.

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

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

The Lady Gators certainly have the tools to keep their amazing streak of five straight seasons without a district loss intact.

St. Amant will be without two of their best power hitters in UL-Lafayette signee Kourtney Gremillion and catcher Taylor Trabeaux.

Gremillion had an exceptional year in 2016. In addition to being one of their top pitchers, she hit an amazing .602 with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs.

This was enough to make her district and Parish MVP. She was also first-team All-State, and she even garnered All-American honors.

But though they lose Gremillion, they’ll return one of the best players in the state in LSU commit Taylor Tidwell.

The short stop hit .504 last season with 10 homers and 49 RBIs and was an All-State selection.

Another key slugger that will return to the lineup will be Abby McKey.

McKey missed a large portion of 2016 with an injury, but when she returned to the roster, she went on a big-time hot streak that was instrumental in St. Amant’s run to the quarterfinals.

McKey hit .513 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs en route to earning All-State honors.

Other productive hitters that will return for the Lady Gators include Jadyn Rumfellow and McKenzie King (LSU-Eunice signee). Both players were all-district and All-Parish last season.

St. Amant will also be strong from the circle in 2017.

They return first-team all-district pitcher Renee Firmin. Firmin split time with Gremillion last season but looks to be their ace heading into this year.

With the graduation of Dutchtown’s Ali McCoy, East Ascension’s Jessie Watts and Ascension Catholic’s Julia Beck, Firmin will be the most experienced pitcher in the parish.

With so many starters back, the Lady Gators’ eyes will be on repeating as district champions and making a run for their first state title since 2006.

“I believe we have a chance to do some good things when we put it all together,” Pitre said. “I look forward to a great year with some great energy.”