Ascension Parish schools Dutchtown, East Ascension and St. Amant are again off to fast starts in softball.
Dutchtown (11-1, 2-0) travels to East Ascension (9-3, 1-0) for an important District 5-5A game at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Defending district champion St. Amant (8-0, 1-0) is also in the mix. EAHS and St. Amant advanced to the Class 5A playoff quarterfinals last season. St. Amant has won five state titles.
One thing all three schools have in common is solid pitching.
East Ascension junior Jesse Watts (9-3), Dutchtown junior Ali McCoy (11-1) and St. Amant’s Gabrielle Sharp (8-0) have led the way in the circle.
EA coach Amy Pitre knows it will take a strong effort Thursday against Dutchtown.
“We’ll really have to play well to win,” Pitre said. “Dutchtown has a good team. Ali McCoy does a good job on the mound for them.
“My girls are hard workers and we’ll be ready.”
Dutchtown coach Nancy Ensminger said her team has good chemistry and has more speed on the bases this season.
“Defensively we’re playing well,” Ensminger said. “We’re hitting in the lineup from 1-9, and we have quality hitters in reserve.
“East Ascension is always good. Jesse Watts is tough on the mound. We’ll have to show up and play our best game to win.”
McCoy (.484, 10 RBIs) also leads the Griffins with the highest batting average among regulars.
Rachel Newcomer (.361) leads Dutchtown with 12 RBIs. Third baseman Hope Vezinat (.375) leads the team with two homers and five doubles. Blayne Pence (.389) and Bailey Gilleon (.303) are others to watch at the plate.
Dutchtown center fielder Royelle Cobb drew praise from Ensminger for her defensive ability to cover ground. Bria White, who was a utility player last season, is the starting catcher.
Dutchtown has six shutouts on the season, including Wednesday’s 15-0 win over Woodlawn.
Junior shortstop Claire Weinberger is the leadoff hitter for the Spartans. An LSU softball commitment, Weinberger sparks the team on offense and is ready to start the double play on defense when the situation is right.
Second baseman Jordan Langlois is the only senior starter.
Junior center fielder Valencia Jackson and Watts bat second and third, respectively.
“We have good speed at the top of our order,” Pitre said. “It’s not easy for a pitcher to get through our lineup.”