Parish elite

Kyle Riviere
Ascension Catholic's Alicia Canatella was second-team All-Parish. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

After so many great players graduated last season, 2017 was supposed to be an off-year for Ascension Parish softball.

Well, if you call four of the six high-schools making the playoffs and two reaching Sulphur for the state tournament, then sure, it was.

Just like any time I put together an All-Parish team, it was a challenge trying to decide which players would make the first and second teams, or which players would just miss out on getting selected.

It was hard to ignore the excellence of the St. Amant and Dutchtown programs. Each team placed eight players on the All-Parish squad.

This is nothing new for St. Amant. They’ve long been the gold standard for Ascension softball, and that didn’t change much in 2017.

The Lady Gators got off to a slow start at 2-3, but once they got rolling, no one could stop them.

They closed the regular season on a 16-game winning streak that included another undefeated run in district play.

In the playoffs, they won their first two games by a combined margin of 25-1 to reach the state tournament. There, St. Amant failed to hold on to a 4-1 lead and fell to Live Oak in the quarterfinals.

Amy Pitre was the Parish Coach of the Year in her first season with the Lady Gators.

Despite the coaching change, St. Amant picked up right where they left off in 2016. They dominated their district—winning all 10 games by a average margin of 17-1.

That potent offense was powered by first-team All-Parish players in LSU commit Taylor Tidwell, LSU-Eunice signee McKenzie King, Pamela Carbo and Jadyn Rumfellow.

However, their most consistently dangerous hitter was Parish MVP Abby McKey. It seemed like every game McKey was either rocking a home run or driving in multiple runs with base-clearing doubles.

The huge roll St. Amant got on at the end of the season, a lot of it had to do with their improvements from the circle.

Lady Gator pitching struggled immensely during their 2-3 lull at the beginning of the season. Enter freshman hurler Alyssa Romano.

Romano became their ace, and with every game, she got a little better. When her efforts combined with St. Amant’s deadly approach from the plate, it translated into the Lady Gators winning 21 of their final 22 games.

It also led to me picking Romano as the Parish Pitcher of the Year.

For the first time in years, Dutchtown didn’t have high expectations coming into the season after losing multiple starters—including All-State pitcher and top hitter Ali McCoy.

Fortunately for the Lady Griffins, this gave many young stars a chance to shine, and they shined brightly throughout the year.

Despite the youth and inexperience, Dutchtown finished as runner-up in the district and upset Destrehan in the first round of the playoffs.

Eight Lady Griffins made the All-Parish squad.

Three of the selections were freshmen in pitchers Carly Turner and Erin Hardy and catcher Paige Patterson.

Other first-team selections for Dutchtown included juniors Hannah Martin and Baylee Bourgeois and senior Blayne Pence.

It was weird to see East Ascension struggling through a losing season in 2017. We’re so used to seeing them compete for district titles and making deep playoff runs. It was just three years ago that they reached the state semifinals.

Unfortunately for the Lady Spartans, they headed into this season missing all nine starters from last year—including four players that signed with colleges.

In a rebuilding project, East Ascension went 9-22 and missed the playoffs in head coach Katie Ocmand’s first season.

Still, two players in Grace Bagwell and Rachel Ducote made the All-Parish team.

And just because they were in 1A, I wasn’t about to ignore Ascension Catholic and Ascension Christian.

Ascension Catholic won another district championship this season and reached their fifth straight state tournament, despite losing Julia Beck and Rae’Shaun Melancon from last year’s team.

Ceilly Grisaffe, Isabelle Abadie, Alicia Canatella and Bailey Acosta were all second-team selections on the All-Parish squad.

Ascension Christian improved their win total by five games in 2017 and made a return to the playoffs.

As a result, pitcher Madison Gautreau and infielder Layla Thompson both made the All-Parish second team.