ST. AMANT — With perfection has come a point of no return for St. Amant High School’s softball team.
“At this point anything less than perfect would be disappointing because that means you didn’t win a state championship,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “We’re not looking three games ahead. We’re going to take them one game at a time and prepare just like we have all year. The goal is to be successful in Sulphur and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Top-seeded St. Amant punched its ticket to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 state tournament for the fifth straight year and 14th time in 15 seasons, taking a methodical 11-4 victory Friday over No. 16 Barbe in a Class 5A state regional at Lady Gator Park.
The Gators (26-0) face eighth-seeded Denham Springs, a 16-13 winner over Pineville, in next Friday’s state quarterfinal at Sulphur’s Frasch Park No. 14 at 6 o’clock.
“Our goal is not to get there but reach the last game on the last day,” St. Amant catcher Taylor Trabeaux said.
“We’re looking for the championship.”
A weather and lightning delay pushed the game’s start time back 1 hour, 45 minutes but it didn’t seem to bother St. Amant who took a 2-0 lead in the first on Trabeaux’s two-out, two-run single.
“I was concerned at the beginning with the rain delay and how that would affect the kids,” Nielson said. “Sometimes when it rains on your parade you dance in the rain.”
St. Amant extended its lead to 6-0, scoring four times on four hits after two outs.
The Gators caused havoc with its short game, parlaying three infield singles into two runs when Kourtney Gremillion beat out a slow grounder to third, scoring both Jadyn Rumfellow and her sister Kara Gremillion to make it 4-0.
Trabeaux (2-for-3) delivered a RBI-single up the middle with the bases loaded and Pamela Carbo was hit by a pitch, forcing in another run.
Six of the team’s 10 hits were of the infield variety with St. Amant laying down a pair of bunts with Barbe’s defense playing back on the infield.
“Overall there weren’t any balls that left the park,” Barbe coach Sarah Portie said. “There were a lot more balls in the infield than I thought there was going to be.”
Barbe (18-7), which hadn’t reached the state tournament since 2012, closed to within 7-4 in the fifth when Sade’ Harmon, Ally Crooks and Sarah Katz all recorded run-scoring doubles during its three-run inning.
Winning pitcher Gabby Sharp (24-0) yielded eight hits, walked four and struck out two in her 113-pitch outing.
Kourtney Gremillion’s sacrifice fly to right made it 8-4 in the fifth and St. Amant, taking advantage of Barbe’s third error of the game, tacked on three more runs in the sixth with Kara Gremillion supplying a RBI single and Taylor Tidwell (2-2) adding a sacrifice fly.
“They scored but I wasn’t worried,” Trabeaux said. “I knew we would come back. That’s who we are. If they answer, we answer back. We’re not just going to give up right there.”