It may not be unanimous opinion among coaches, but many loathe squaring off against their friends in the business in the postseason.
It’s only natural to want to see a pal experience career success, so playoff games between close colleagues can be awkward.
For St. Thomas More softball coach Andria Waguespack, the sixth-seeded Lady Cougars’ first-round matchup against No. 11 Vandebilt Catholic on Tuesday was both uncomfortable and stressful. Standing in the dugout was her old friend and associate Danielle “Dee” Price. Price, a VC alum, coached under and with Waguespack at STM and Louisiana College for more than a decade. Together they won four state championship on the high school level.
“That coach over there is one of the best coaches I’ve ever coached with,” Waguespack said of Price, who she considers family. “We coached together for 10-plus years. Very nerve-wracking to be on a field with her and not be in the same dugout. Very odd. Very weird.”
So Waguespack was glad to get a 12-0 run-rule victory against the Lady Terriers (15-15) over with and move on to a quarterfinal matchup against third-seeded Haynes Academy.
“It’s one of those where I’m happy my girls won,” Waguespack said, “but I’m sad my sister lost.”
But Waguespack was certainly thrilled with her team’s execution. STM (22-9) pounded out 11 hits and scored three runs in every inning, including sophomore Madison Prejean’s 4-for-4 day with five RBIs. Hannah Parker had a two-run homer in the first.
In the circle, senior Paityn Desormeaux fired a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts. Desormeaux, a Spring Hill signee, helped her own cause in third when she drove a two-run single.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve seen her throw this year,” Waguespack said of Desormeaux. “I find when kids are seniors, especially when you have a kid that’s going to play at the next level, they really put the pressure on themselves to have a blow-up senior year. She’s surrounded by all these young kids, so she’s really pressed this year to be perfect. I think she’s finally letting loose.”
Extra practice time between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs paid dividends, Waguespack said. The high school softball season is condensed in such a way that teams like STM play more games than they practice on a weekly basis, especially when battling inclement weather.
“The last several weeks of the regular season, we’ve really struggled with some things,” Waguespack said. “We finally got multiple days of practice in a row, and we were able to lock in on some things we’ve really been struggling with. When you have more than one day of practice and not playing games every day, you can really focus on things. The kids are really picking it up, and they did a great job.”
That extra reps in the batting cages was especially beneficial to a player like Prejean, one of several sophomores in the lineup but the only one who was a returning starter. Waguespack said Prejean’s had an up-and-down year at the plate, needing time to adjust after transitioning from basketball season.
“I’ve been in a slump from just — I don’t know — I think I just overthink things too much,” Prejean said. “I had hitting lessons the other day, and (my hitting coach) really helped me a lot with what to do. So his advice really helped me out.”