John Curtis senior Peyton Pigniolo had big shoes to fill this year replacing former Patriots softball pitcher Katie Brignac, last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year for Louisiana.
Pigniolo never quite saw it that way.
“Katie and I were great friends and always hung out outside softball,” Pigniolo said. “Everyone always thought it was a competition between us, but it wasn’t. Really it was just her time, and now it’s my time.”
Eleven games into the season, Pigniolo is making the most of her time.
She threw her fourth no-hitter of the season Tuesday in Curtis’ 6-0 victory over visiting Riverside Academy.
Pigniolo, a Southeastern Louisiana signee, finished with a season-best 14 strikeouts and walked four.
It was the most strikeouts she had since her sophomore season, when she struck out 18 in the semifinals. She was limited last season with a back injury, but has returned to form.
She realized she still had a no-hitter around the fifth inning Tuesday.
“I don’t think about it, I just pitch,” said Pigniolo (9-1).
She also threw no-hitters against Lutcher, Opelousas Catholic and Lafayette this season.
Her latest one helped Curtis improve to 10-1 and bounce back from Saturday’s loss to Teurlings Catholic.
“She just gets up there and competes,” Curtis coach Jerry Godfrey said. “She is a senior, so she knows this is her last rodeo. We don’t talk about it, but I know in her mind she wants to have the same success the other seniors had who have come before her. I don’t ask her to be Katie. I just ask her to be herself.”
The Patriots got all the runs they needed in the first.
Toni Hebert, who played at Riverside last season, singled to left to drive in Briana Neal.
It was just what Hebert needed to settle her nerves against her former teammates.
She transferred after her mother, former Riverside coach Kristy Hebert, accepted a job as girls athletic director at Curtis.
“It was weird a little bit at first,” said Hebert, a junior shortstop. “I try not to bring my emotions out on the field. My first at-bat after I got the hit it was a relief. I took a deep breath and settled down.”
Pigniolo helped her cause later in the inning with a two-run double to center.
Curtis added two more run in the second on back-to-back RBI doubles by Alyssa Dean and Hebert.
Hebert then drove in her third RBI in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to left that gave Curtis a 6-0.
“Toni has a lot of experience because she has played for so long,” Godfrey said. “We don’t ask her to be everything. We just ask her to go out and play.”
Hebert was one of five Curtis batters with at least two hits.
Dean was 3-for-3, with a double, a triple and a single.
Payton Adams, Jenna Bordelon and Pigniolo had two hits each.
Riverside (3-3) only had one runner reach second base, and that came when Pigniolo walked back-to-back batters in the first.
She then retired nine straight batters before giving up another walk in the fourth.
“We have to get better at pitch selection and pitching-wise we have to settle down in earlier in the game,” said first-year Riverside coach Tamra Regalo.
Riverside pitcher Hailey Tassin took the loss, giving up three hits and five runs before being replaced in the second by Cheyenne Triche.
Curtis, seeking its fourth straight state championship this season, begins district play Thursday when it plays St. Charles.
“Last year we had a lot of power,” Pigniolo said. “This year we have a lot of speed. It’s two different teams. … I have been ready for this since my freshman year.”