ST. AMANT — With the top of St. Amant High School’s softball lineup hitting the way it was Saturday, there was no right answer for Hahnville.
Either the Tigers would pitch to Kourtney Gremillion to avoid Abby McKey, or they walk Gremillion’s big bat and risk it with McKey’s equally devastating swing.
No. 10 Hahnville learned the hard way that there is no right answer, losing to No. 7 St. Amant 12-5 in the second round of the 5A softball playoffs.
With two runners on in both the third and fourth innings, the Tigers tried their luck with Gremillion. The Louisiana-Lafayette commitment responded with three-run homers in consecutive at-bats.
The same situation happened again in the sixth inning, with Hahnville (23-8) deciding this time it would walk Gremillion to load the bases for McKey. This time, McKey, the Gators left fielder, hit a two-RBI double up the middle.
“The way our lineup has been lately, it’s been pick your poison,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “They walked Kourtney (in the sixth inning) like I thought they’d do and it was a situation of, ‘Do you want to get shot or do you want to get stabbed?’ because (McKey) has hit the ball so well.”
The Gators’ 1-2 punch combined for three home runs, two doubles and nine of the team’s 12 RBIs Saturday, propelling them to the program’s sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament and 13th trip since Nielson took over the program in 2003. McKey, who homered in the third inning, finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs. Gremillion was 2-for-3 with two homers and six RBIs.
Gremillion pulled double duty for the Gators (25-5) on Saturday, leading the team defensively from the circle.
Hahnville had several opportunities to get on the board early, putting runners on base in each of the first four innings.
Gremillion (12-3) was able to escape the first three innings without suffering any damage, but the Tigers put together a rally in the fourth, capped by center fielder Pryscilla Prince’s three-run home run to cut the St. Amant lead to 5-4.
Gremillion responded with her second homer of the day in the bottom of the inning to cut off any momentum Hahnville’s rally might have gained.
Nugent said the deciding factor in the game was that Hahnville left eight runners on base.
“We did good things, but we didn’t do enough of them,” Nugent said. “We knew we were going to have to out-hit them to beat them.
“We know what their offense is capable of because they’ve been doing it all year, so we were expecting them to get their runs.”
After Hahnville’s fourth-inning rally, Gremillion proceeded to retire the next seven batters in order before an error by shortstop Taylor Tidwell put a runner on first. An RBI double by Sarah Vanetta gave the Tigers their final run, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Gators.
Gremillion allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in a complete-game performance.
“I knew (Prince) was a good hitter, so I just had to shake it,” Gremillion said. “I had to do what was best for my team. I knew we would hit the ball, so I trusted that and I just kind of shut it down.”