PINEVILLE — Elyse Thornhill of St. Joseph’s Academy was all smiles after being voted the Outstanding Player for the East squad at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s Softball All-Star weekend.
The LSU signee said she wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about after she helped the East claim a 3-1 victory over the West on Saturday at Louisiana College’s Coca-Cola Field.
“I really didn’t think I was going to be the MVP … it’s still a shock,” Thornhill said.
“I came out here and played the game like I always do. I had fun in the process.
“I was singing to the songs in between innings. I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Though Thornhill may choose to remember the fun and the friends she made, others are sure to remember what she did on the field to help the East sweep the two-game series.
It was the first sweep since the West won both games in 2009.
And it started on Friday night when the East took a 4-2 victory over the West. The left-handed hitting Thornhill launched a line drive home run over the right field fence, something that impressed local spectators who noted that home runs to right field — particularly one like the drive Thornhill hit — seldom happen.
It was only the beginning for Thornhill, who finished 3-for-4 Saturday, driving in a run that gave the East a little added insurance in the pivotal fifth inning. She finished 4-for-6 for the weekend. William Carey signee Harli Crow of Denham Springs, who was 2-for-3 with a double, was the only other player with multiple hits in Game 2 game.
“When you change pitchers like we do in the all-star games, it’s hard to get in a groove offensively,” East coach Tim Whitman of Ouachita Parish High said. “But I thought we had some timely hits. We had some two-out hits.
“We didn’t have as many baserunners as yesterday, but we got the hits with two outs. And it was good to see people on base when Elyse came up. She was hot all weekend.”
When asked to the reason for her success Saturday, Thornhill offered a methodical explanation.
“Most of the pitchers we faced today were rise ball pitchers,” Thornhill said. “I tried to focus on the pitches that were low in the zone. Once they pitched it right where I wanted it, I went and got it.”
Each team scored a run in the third. Houston signee Elise LeBouef of Notre Dame doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch for the West. Tioga’s Taylor Pippen walked and East courtesy runner Smith of West Ouachita scored the tying run on a passed ball in the bottom of the inning.
West Outstanding Player Summer Ellyson of Teurlings Catholic was at the plate and on the mound for the pivotal fifth inning. Ellyson smacked a double off the wall in center to lead off the top of the fifth for the West.
However, the West did not capitalize. Winning pitcher Kayla Busby of Menard retired the next three batters in order to end the threat.
St. Amant’s Kara Gremillion drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth for the East. Gremillion scored the go-ahead run on a groundout by Mount Carmel’s Alaina Guarino, sliding around the tag on a close play at the plate after West Ouachita’s Smith had reached on an error.
Thornhill followed with an RBI single that brought Smith home with an insurance run. It was a tough situation for Ellyson, who gave up three hits.
West coach Andria Waguespack of St. Thomas More noted the contrasting fortunes the teams had with runners on base.
“We got hits when there were two outs,” West coach Andria Waguespack of St. Thomas More said. “But it’s hard to score runs when you’ve got two outs on you already. You’ve got your back against the wall. We were never able to get in a groove.”