It was a year ago that St. Amant won the state title

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing the LHSAA to cancel the rest of the spring sports seasons, St. Amant will not get a chance to win a second straight Class 5A softball state title.

All they’ll be able to do is sit back and reminisce about what an amazing April afternoon they experienced one year ago.

It was on April 27, 2019, that the Lady Gators defeated Barbe in an instant classic at Frasch Park in Sulphur.

Here’s what it looked like one year ago:

Late heroics propel Lady Gators to state title

In softball, all it takes is one swing of the bat, and what a swing it was for St. Amant short stop Julia Kramer.

With the Lady Gators trailing Barbe 1-0 in the top of the seventh with two on and two outs, Kramer was St. Amant’s last prayer of taking home their first state championship in nearly 15 years. Prayer answered.

Kramer drilled a shot into center that had just enough oomph to get over the glove of the centerfielder. The result was a three-run homer that gave St. Amant its first lead of the game at 3-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, ace Alyssa Romano turned Barbe down in order to win St. Amant its first Class 5A crown since 2006.

It was an amazing end to an impressive sophomore campaign by Kramer in her first season as a starter. Just two plate appearances before her game-winning home run, she struck out.

“It’s not easy to get Julia looking like that,” St. Amant head coach Amy Pitre said. “That pitcher did a fantastic job, but I know that if there’s anyone that’s going to make an adjustment, it’s gonna be her. I don’t know why I had a feeling when she came up, but I did. I thought it was gonna be in left field, but it went to center.”

Barbe took the first lead of the game in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Alana Marks crushed the first pitch she saw over the right-field wall to put her team up 1-0.

With the way Barbe pitcher Halie Pappion was dealing, it looked like that solo shot might have been all they needed to take the title.

St. Amant had success getting runners on base; they just couldn’t bring them home. In the first, second and fourth innings, two Lady Gators were stranded.

By the time the game headed into the top of the seventh, it looked bleak for St. Amant. To that point, they had been held to four hits, they had endured 11 strikeouts and they stranded a total of eight base-runners.

However, to begin the inning, Pappion hit a batter. Then, Addie Bourgeois came up with a bunt single. A sac bunt by Rylee Rossi advanced the runners.

Romano then struck out, bringing the Lady Gators just one out away from defeat. That’s when Kramer belted the three-run homer that proved to be the game winner.

It was a pitcher’s duel. Romano only had one strikeout, but she held Barbe to just five hits and one run. Pappion racked up 13 strikeouts.

At the plate, Kramer and Payton Granier were the only players in the game with multiple hits. Kramer went 2-3 with the homer and three RBIs. Granier was also 2-3.

St. Amant lost seven starters from last season—including LSU signee Taylor Tidwell. Coach Pitre said she made sure to hammer home the point to her team that because of their lack of experience, they would have to work extra hard to contend for a championship.

“We had a chat in week two. Things changed, and we never looked back, as far as the work they put in,” Pitre said. “They know they’re not the most talented team that St. Amant has had, and I’ve let them know that. But that doesn’t mean we’re not gonna win.

“I told them that a lot of times they took the field that they probably wouldn’t be the most talented team. That’s why it’s so important to come every day and do what we do, work hard and not take a day off. I’m super proud of them.”

Coach Pitre said that this Lady Gator team is truly unique.

“I’m so excited to see this because this team is different from the teams that have won before with the numbers and the stats,” Pitre said. “This proves a little something to this group that you don’t need to hit 50-something home runs to win a state championship, and I think that was always the mindset. They figured it out this year. They knew we were gonna be a different kind of team, and they totally bought in.”

The Lady Gators finished the year with an overall record of 28-2-1.