Lady Lion softball team brings in new head coach
Over the last few years, the Ascension Christian softball program has steadily been on the rise as they have transformed from a losing team to a squad that has routinely made the playoffs each year.
Now, they’re looking to take the next step. That’s where George Gutierrez comes into the picture.
Gutierrez was recently hired as the Lady Lions’ new head coach. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to a talented team with the hopes of leading them to the state tournament in Sulphur for the first time in school history.
“First of all, I’m very thankful for the Ascension Christian administration giving me the opportunity to run their program. I’m very excited and looking forward to start working with the players,” Gutierrez said.
Even with all the success Ascension Christian has had in softball over the past few years, they’ve had trouble holding on to coaches.
Under Jennifer Cooper, the Lady Lions broke through in 2014 and not only made the postseason, but for the first time in school history, they hosted a first-round contest against Merryville. It’s a game that they would lose, 11-6.
Ascension Christian missed the playoffs the next year, but in Victoria Bowman’s first season as head coach, the Lady Lions made a return. This time, they lost to Central Catholic, 8-3.
Though, they carried the momentum over to this year when they improved their win total by five games as they finished 12-10 during the regular season.
They reached the newly-created Division IV playoffs, before being dropped by eventual state champion Cedar Creek in the opening round.
After two seasons, Bowman is gone, and now Gutierrez is looking to help Ascension Christian get over the hump and win their first ever playoff game.
Gutierrez said that his love of coaching and his love of softball led to him taking the job.
“I want to bring my ideas and coaching philosophy to the program. I want to develop an additional Ascension Parish team to qualify for the LHSAA State Tournament,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez is originally from Brownsville, Texas, but he’s been a part of Ascension Parish for practically his entire life.
When he was 4 years old, his family moved to Gonzales after his father was hired by Ormet Corp. Sixty years later, and he’s still a proud member of the Ascension community.
Gutierrez graduated from East Ascension High in 1971, and he retired from Syngenta Corp. in 2000, after working there for 37 years.
As a coach, he has led the Lady Hawks travel team organization for 17 years. In that time, he has worked with players ranging from ages 9-18.
For the past seven seasons, he has served as an assistant coach under Nancy Ensminger at Dutchtown.
While Gutierrez was in the Lady Griffin dugout, they made multiple trips to the state tournament. In 2015, Dutchtown reached the state title game, before losing to defending champion Sam Houston, 3-1.
Dutchtown has been a common place for successful hires for Ascension Christian sports.
Head football coach and Athletic Director Josh Puryear is a former football player and coach for the Griffins. He is fresh off of leading the Lion football team to its greatest season in school history at 8-2.
Head baseball coach Conrad Gayle was an assistant coach at Dutchtown before leading the Lions. This past season, Ascension Christian won their first baseball playoff game in school history.
Now, Gutierrez will hope to have the same kind of success with the softball program. He certainly has the tools at his disposal.
The Lady Lions will lose two all-district players in Emily Millet and Kaley Ryan, but they bring back four all-district selections—including three players in Layla Thompson, Hallie Dupree and Madison Gautreau that made the first team.
Thompson and Gautreau were also All-Parish selections.
Gutierrez’s plan for his new team is real simple.
“We will be disciplined on and off he field. We will have good ‘on field’ communication between players and have players supporting each other,” Gutierrez said. “We will be aggressive on offense—hitting and running bases. We will work hard on making the routine plays.”