SULPHUR — There are no guarantees for a No. 1 seed at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Fast Pitch 56 state softball tournament.
The road to semifinal losses is often paved with missed opportunities, uncharacteristic miscues and painful near-misses.
Were there regrets for Class 5A St. Amant and 1A Catholic-Pointe Coupee? Not even a few.
“We’re not going to let this one game define our season,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said.
“I don’t remember a time when somebody had an undefeated regular season, especially in 5A with the schedule we play. I hate it for (seniors Kara Gremillion and Gabby Sharp), two kids who had absolutely amazing seasons.
“We’ve talked about this for years: It comes down to timely hitting. Kara did her thing and Jadyn Rumfellow did her thing at the bottom of the order getting on. We had plenty of opportunities. We did not have prime-time at-bats in prime situations. The mistakes that we had in the (batter’s) box today had some finality to them.”
Nielson’s No. 1 Gators (27-1) lost 3-1 to No. 5 seed Sam Houston in the 5A semifinals. The raw emotions were much the same as the ones experienced by top-seeded CHSPC (22-5) when No. 4 Central Catholic-Morgan City pushed across the game’s lone run in the top of the seventh to win their 1A semifinal.
Those feelings weren’t limited to just the top seeds. Sixth-seeded East Ascension led 5-5A and Ascension Parish rival Dutchtown in their 5A semifinal until the seventh. The Griffins scored three times to notch a 4-2 victory.
Catholic-PC and Central Catholic went toe-to-toe for six-plus innings in their morning 1A game. The Tigers’ Megan Landry limited the Hornets to just two hits. One of those hits was a two-out double by Julia Johnson.
CHSPC couldn’t convert on that chance or on two others. In the bottom of the sixth, the Hornets saw Auburn signee Blaire Bass get tagged out trying to advance to third on an infield chopper. The Hornets got a runner to third on an illegal pitch, but Landry got a strikeout to end the inning.
Central Catholic loaded the bases and Kaitlyn Gros scored on a bunt by Hallie Autin, a ball third baseman Savannah LeJeune just missed making a diving catch on.
“(LeJeune) took a chance and dove for it,” CHSPC coach Lauren Doucet said. “She didn’t get it, but I like the hustle and the aggressiveness. I’m very, very proud. This group of seven seniors set the bar and raised the standards. We show a lot of heart, determination and dedication.
“We lacked the timely hit. We got girls on base; we just couldn’t put it all together. (Central Catholic) did a good job. We can go back and say ‘What if?’ all we want, but that doesn’t change.”
CHSPC made two semifinals and also had a 2013 state title and a 2012 runner-up finish with the senior group.
The burden of expectations have been a constant since St. Amant won a string of five straight 5A titles nearly a decade ago. The Gators rallied to beat Denham Springs in extra innings.
St. Amant loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh innings Saturday afternoon. Jadeyn Rumfellow singled and later scored on a hit by Kourtney Gremillion as the Gators loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh.
First baseman Taylor Edwards, one of SMHS’ offensive stars, later corralled a line drive off the bat of Taylor Trabeaux and stepped on first for a game-ending double play.
On a field located to the right of where St. Amant played, East Ascension was in control most of the way in its 5A semifinal. The Griffins did it with the bottom of their order. Katie Cloud and Bria White had RBI hits in the top of the seventh.
“I feel like Jessie left everything out there,” East Ascension coach Amy Pitre said of pitcher Jessie Watts. “I feel like (both teams) left everything out there. We’re going to walk out of here with our heads up. I’m so proud of them. And we’ll be back.”