Elyse Thornhill’s softball career isn’t over just yet, but this weekend still holds a sad distinction for the St. Joseph’s middle infielder.
With her senior season in the books, Thornhill will represent the Redstickers one more time in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association Softball All-Star games this weekend as a member of the East team.
“It definitely will be emotional,” Thornhill said. “Everything with the last four years, practicing every single day, making great friendships with everybody on the team and just wearing that uniform and the helmet and everything — it just creates a sense of pride in you. Being able to wear that helmet one last time will be really special.”
The all-star selection is particularly important to Thornhill after her last high school season was cut short in the postseason.
St. Joseph’s was ousted in the first round of the playoffs by No. 10 Hahnville in a hard-fought 3-2 game, putting Thornhill at home.
She had plenty of good memories from the rest of the season — like the Red Stickers’ 4-3 upset of eventual state runner up Dutchtown during the regular season — but Thornhill is still grateful to have an opportunity like the all star game.
“It’s an honor to be able to play with the best in the state,” Thornhill said. “It’s also great to hopefully make some great new friends in the process. I’m playing with a lot of people I’ve never met before, so hopefully that will be a great experience.”
But whereas Thornhill’s departure from the high school ranks is a sad moment for her, the rest of District 5-5A won’t be mourning the loss of such a tough competitor as much.
No one knows how dangerous Thornhill can be more than St. Amant coach Scott Nielson who has been watching the Redsticker frustrate the Gators for the past few seasons with what he described as “always a tough out.”
In her senior season, Thornhill amassed 47 runs on 43 hits, with a .531 batting average.
“She made their team go,” Nielson said. “We would have to keep her off base because as she would go, they would go. She was the catalyst for their team.
“Having to not prepare for her going forward is definitely a benefit for us.”
Of course, this weekend won’t mark the last time Thornhill ever steps onto a softball field.
As early as her sophomore year, Thornhill has been committed to continuing her career at LSU, officially signing with the program last fall.
Thornhill said the plan is to continue playing in the middle infield, but LSU coach Beth Torina has told her to be prepared for time as a utility player with possible use in the outfield.
Thornhill said she hopes to make it to one of the Tigers’ super regional games against Arizona this weekend.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while,” Thornhill said. “Just seeing the program grow over the last few years, I just can’t wait to be a part of it.
“It’s been my dream to go to LSU forever.”