North Vermilion junior catcher Demi Boudreaux still doesn’t readily embrace her new persona.
The one where Boudreaux’s portrayed as a modern-day slugger, capable of bashing softballs out of any ball park against top-flight pitching.
“People would label me (a home run hitter) this year because I’ve been hitting it really well,” Boudreaux said. “I always see myself as a little person. Little people just don’t hit home runs. It’s kind of shocking for me this year.”
Then again, Boudreaux’s quick to credit the advice her mother conveyed during the infancy of her softball career — both on the travel ball circuit and in high school — that’s served her well.
“She would always tell me, it’s not how big you are but how big you play,” Boudreaux said. “It’s about just giving that effort and knowing your team has faith in everything you do. I always give 100 percent.”
Since the time she cracked North Vermilion’s starting lineup as a seventh-grader, Boudreaux has developed a reputation as one of the area’s top overall catchers, one that can handle a bat as well as a pitching staff and slow down an opponent’s running game at the same time.
Her scholarship offer and three-year-old commitment to McNeese State is a testament to that.
However, over the past two seasons, Boudreaux has emerged as a power hitter — belying her 5-foot-3 frame with 12 homers this season for North Vermilion (20-3, 8-0), which hosts Kaplan (18-4, 9-1) in a key District 8-3A game Saturday at 2 p.m.
“She’s always been a good hitter, but it seems like every year she’s gotten more mature mentally and physically,” North Vermilion coach Joy LeBlanc said. “She’s put time in the weight room, she’s mentally tougher and picks the right pitches.”
Boudreaux’s literally been ahead of the playing curve, regularly opting to play up an age group in travel ball, or in the case of last summer, was a member of the Louisiana Bombers’ U18 Gold team.
That continued exposure to top-level competition helped to facilitate Boudreaux’s growth, and when it came time for varsity tryouts her seventh-grade season, she was more prepared than your average 12-year-old.
“I was very nervous,” Boudreaux said. “I was an OK player, but I didn’t really know going in that was I was going to be in that (competing for a starting) position. I had a few friends, but no one knew who I was.”
No player on North Vermilion’s team could be more accomplished or admired than Boudreaux, a four-time first-team all-district selection.
A year after belting eight homers, Boudreaux didn’t wait long to announce that 2016 would border on memorable with a 6-for-6 effort at the plate in the Lady Patriots’ first two games, including a pair of homers and two doubles.
“She’s become a great leader back there,” LeBlanc said. “She was always the young one, always so small. She’s stepped into that role and is taking care of everybody else.”
Boudreaux has flourished in her No. 3 spot in North Vermilion’s potent batting order with a .560 average with a team-leading 12 homers, 12 doubles and 56 RBIs.
Though her home-run hitting frequency has escalated, Boudreaux looks back favorably on the time her first home run left a park. It took place while playing for her stepfather Chris Albert, as a 12-year-old member of the Louisiana Pride, something that’s become more commonplace with age.
“Whenever I come around the bases and my teammates all tap my helmet, it makes me feel really good,” Boudreaux said. “They’re always there supporting me. I’m always there supporting them. It’s a great feeling to know my team has confidence in me to do it.”