SULPHUR — Peyton Pigniolo threw 142 pitches Saturday night. Some were illegal.
One ended up on the other side of the center-field fence at Frasch Park.
But most of the time, she made it look easy, hurling pitches to catcher Alyssa Dean just like she did while growing up and throwing them to her parents, Jerry and Billie Jo.
Billie Jo, her 48-year-old mom, still squats down in a catcher’s stance and catches pitches from her daughter. Jerry was one of the first to run onto the field and hug his daughter after Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Kaplan.
It was the fourth straight championship for Curtis.
Two came in 2A, and the last two were in 3A.
Next year, they’ll move up yet again when they compete in Class 5A in a district with Dominican, Chapelle and Mount Carmel.
And they’ll have to go for that one without Pigniolo, one of just two seniors on the team and the lone senior starter.
She was brilliant Saturday.
And boy did she feel she needed to be, especially after a rough Friday that saw her get ejected, shortly after being replaced on the mound.
The illegal pitches were called because the umpires ruled that she was crow-hopping on the mound. She was called for a few more Saturday night.
“(On Friday) it really hit me,” Pigniolo said. “That was the worst feeling in the world. Now today is the best feeling in the world. I worked on (correcting the illegal pitches) for about two hours. This is my senior year. This is my team, and I had to do it for them.”
It didn’t take long to see she was ready to go out with a bang. Her first six pitches were strikes. She had seven strikeouts in the first three innings. At one point, she mowed down five Kaplan batters in a row. On this night, she was going to put the team on her back; a back that last year was injured, limiting her playing time.
She didn’t give up a hit until the fourth. Other than the illegal pitches, that one pitch in the fourth was the one she wished she could have back.
Kaplan’s Abby Trahan sent it over the fence to put Curtis in a 2-0 hole. It was one of just two hits for Kaplan.
But despite Pigniolo’s effort, things didn’t look good for Curtis, which trailed 3-0 in the sixth.
That’s when Pigniolo did what seniors do.
“I am surprised I have a voice right now because I was telling everybody if they don’t talk (and pep the team up), get out of the dugout,” Pigniolo said. “It’s the sixth inning.”
And that’s when the “Quad Squad,” all of a sudden became the “Oh My God Squad,” rallying for four runs in the sixth while the Kaplan defense collapsed.
Pigniolo finished Kaplan off in the seventh, striking out two more batters.
She got the last batter to fly out to right field to end the game and set off a big celebration. Next she’ll head to Southeastern Louisiana and pitch for the Lions.
Moments after being named Most Outstanding Player, Pigniolo and her teammates gathered near the pitching circle that served as the stage for her final high school performance.
She led the cheer as they broke the huddle one last time.
“1 ... 2 … 3 ... Quad Squad!”
Eventually, she would have to take her No. 13 Patriots jersey off one last time.
“That’s going to be hard,” she said. “I’m probably going to ask if I can keep the jersey. Nothing can compare to playing for Curtis.”