CROWLEY — Going into her senior season at Notre Dame, senior pitcher/shortstop Sydnei Simon had no idea what to expect from her final season.
After all, the Lady Pios won the state championship her junior season, and, as it turned out, she was the only returning starter from the squad.
What Simon couldn’t have known is how special the incoming freshman class was.
Not only is Notre Dame on track to repeat as Division III state champions after rolling past Ascension Episcopal 14-0 in the quarterfinals Saturday at Fats Leger Memorial Field, but the Lady Pios are two wins away from the first undefeated season in school history.
“No, I didn’t think so, because we were losing almost everyone on our team basically,” Simon said. “It was all freshmen coming in, so I was kind of nervous how it would be. But the freshmen really stepped up their game and have been very impressive throughout the year.”
The Lady Pios improved to 31-0 on the season with the win and will now meet the Catholic-New Iberia-Riverside winner in the semifinals Friday in Sulphur.
“Now that we’re undefeated, we kind of want to keep it like that,” Simon said. “Now we have no choice but to keep it like that if we want to go all the way. But going undefeated was no where near our goal this year. Now that we’re in this position, that’s pretty awesome for us.”
A year ago, Simon was forced into the pitcher’s role because of an injury. This year, she’s the ace.
“I feel a lot more comfortable this year because I got a lot more time to practice and prepare to pitch, whereas last year I was just kind of thrown in without any preparation,” she said.
At the plate Saturday, Simon shined as well to the tune of 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs.
“I’m seeing the ball a lot better this year and making better contact,” she said. “As a hitter, I’ve improved a lot more from last year.”
On this team of hitting stars, though, the brightest one is freshman catcher Maci Bergeron.
A year ago, Notre Dame won the state title with 11 homers. This year, the Lady Pios have pounded 44 over the fence with Bergeron leading the way with 20 after her three-run bomb in the second inning Saturday.
“Twenty was my goal, so that one felt really good,” Bergeron said.
Despite his high expectations, Bergeron said she really didn’t know what to expect from her freshman season. She claims it’s not as easy as it looks.
“No sir, it’s not easy,” said Bergeron, who was 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and six RBIs in Saturday’s win. “I work hard for what I do. The whole team works hard.
“I came into the season open-minded. It’s very fun. I enjoy being around these girls. They make it very interesting. The goal at the beginning was just to win the state championship and just do the best that we could. We fill out our goals as we go on.”
Also contributing offensively Saturday were McKenzie Abshire and Maddie Murrell, who were both 1-for-3 with an RBI.
“It’s crazy,” Notre Dame coach Dale Serie said. “We’ve been blessed. We’re having a great season. We’re putting good swings on the ball and everything’s been working out real well for us. The kids work really hard.
“We’ve embraced it. We’ve accept the challenge. We want to stay undefeated. We’ve never lost from a scrimmage to a jamboree to an exhibition game. We’ve accepted it. They want it. We’re just happy to have that opportunity.”
Follow Kevin Foote on Twitter, @FooteNote.