GONZALES — District championships may seem commonplace for a vibrant softball program such as St. Amant, which is typically measured in postseason achievements.
Given the makeover this year’s team experienced with the loss of nine starters from a state tournament team and you get a sense the accomplishment has even greater meaning.
St. Amant’s lone seniors — pitcher Gabby Sharp and shortstop Kara Gremillion —did their parts in enabling the Gators to secure another District 5-5A championship with a 7-0 victory Thursday over East Ascension.
“This is basically a whole new team,” said Sharp, who threw 57 of 90 pitches for strikes. “It just means more to us. I’m very passionate that we won, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Sharp threw a seven-hit shutout and Gremillion, a Louisiana-Lafayette signee, broke open a tenuous two-run lead with a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning to make it 5-0.
Kourtney Gremillion (2-for-3, two RBIs) and Abby McKey put the game further out of reach with back-to-back solo homers in the seventh, keeping St. Amant (24-0) spotless overall and in district play (9-0) with one league game remaining.
“We just think about the next game,” Sharp said. “We don’t predict anything. We don’t think about anything else other than what we’re about to do. We just come in and get the job done.”
Sharp (20-0) scattered seven singles and stranded two runners in scoring position before the seventh inning when East Ascension (20-7, 7-2) loaded the bases with two outs.
The Spartans had two runners on in the fourth and fifth innings, but Sharp, holding a 2-0 lead, worked out of trouble with two straight outs in the fourth and a fielder’s choice grounder to Kara Gremillion to conclude the fifth.
“We know we’re going to play good defense behind her,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said of Sharp. “Our staff has a saying between the pitchers and catchers: It’s impossible to lose if the other team doesn’t score.”
With Sharp registering three strikeouts, it was the St. Amant defense that took care of 12 groundball outs without an error to go along with a highlight-reel grab from Mackenzie King in center on Brea Aikens’ sinking liner to lead off the fifth.
“Offensively we put the ball in play, and they made every single play,” EA coach Amy Pitre said. “There’s a reason they haven’t lost.”
Said Sharp, “I love my defense. They help me out in tight games like this.”
Conversely, EA committed its fourth and fifth errors of the game (both fielding) in the sixth and opened the door for St. Amant to distance itself on Kara Gremillion’s two-out, bases-loaded double to center.
EA’s Jessie Watts, who left after allowing the two homers in the seventh, gave up eight hits, seven runs (three earned), walked one and struck out six.
“I thought we did a great job of eliminating the big inning until the sixth,” Pitre said. “You make a mistake and especially two, they’re going to take advantage of that sooner or later. Then we face Kara Gremillion with the bases loaded. That’s not fun for anybody.”