PINEVILLE — Kara Gremillion understood the significance of the moment when she stepped to the plate to lead off the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s first All-Star softball game Friday night.
“I was very nervous to lead off the game with a bunch of great players out there,” the St. Amant High shortstop said. “I was glad I got that out of the way.”
Gremillion put the ball out of the way in her second at-bat, blasting a solo home run to left field in the top of the third inning. That home run and another by St. Joseph’s Academy’s Elyse Thornhill in the top of the seventh set the tone for the East squad’s 4-2 victory over the West at Louisiana College’s Coca-Cola Field.
Even though the players were more than two hours from home, there was little doubt that it was a Baton Rouge’s night.
Live Oak’s Virginia Cacioppo drove in the game’s first run with a single in the top of the first and her LOHS teammate Amanda Holliday got the win for the East.
Catholic-Pointe Coupee’s Blaire Bass had a double and two stolen bases for the winners. Brusly’s Akiya Thymes went 1-for-1 and scored both West runs.
The two teams complete their LHSCA series with a 1 p.m. Saturday game.
“I’ll take a win any way I can get it,” East coach Tim Whitman of Ouachita Parish said. “You know, I thought we played well. We had some other chances to score runs and didn’t. But that’s OK. Our pitchers did a great job.”
Gremillion, who finished 2-for-4, was the only player for either team with more than one hit. Sulphur’s Kayla Sheridan and North DeSoto’s Maddie Bushnell each had an RBI for the West.
It didn’t take the East long to get the lead. Menard’s Kayla Busby doubled with two outs in the top of the first and then scored on a single by Cacioppo that dropped just over the outstretched glove of Notre Dame’s Taylor Satchell.
The West countered in less time. Thymes led off with an infield hit, took second on an error and scored on a groundout by Burshell to tie it in the bottom of first.
Bass doubled in the second but was stranded at second. Neither team scored again until Gremillion led off the top of the third with a home run to left.
Again, Thymes and West tied it. Thymes walked, took second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Sulphur’s Kayla Sheridan in the bottom of the third.
“I was a little nervous, but after the first inning I was fine,” Thymes said.
Ouachita’s Victoria Pederson doubled in the top of the fourth right after the teams made their lineup change and scored on a wild pitch, giving the East a 3-2 edge.
Thornhill padded the lead for the East by launching a long home run to right field in the top of the seventh to close the scoring.
A strikeout in her first at-bat prepared Thornhill to hit the home run.
“I struck out on that same pitch my first time, and I figured I’d see it again,” Thornhill said. “So I waited on it. I thought it might hit the fence. I wasn’t sure it would go out.”
As much as she enjoyed the Friday experience, Thymes has a specific goal in mind for Saturday.
“Beating the East … we’re going to beat them tomorrow,” Thymes said.