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From the Sidelines

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 6, 1998

Softball teams represent all that is good about sports

Sometimes you can get a little jagged about sports, especially after constantly reading about athletes getting in trouble on and off the field.

There are often so many bad things about sports that we overlook the fact that there are those who still play for the fun of the games.

Three River Parishes softball teams reminded me of that fact this past weekend. Lutcher, Riverside and St. Charles Catholic showed the waysports are supposed to be played and why all three came home from the state softball tournament in Alexandria winners in their own way.

Yes, all three were there to win the state title, but they also had fun in the process. Each team celebrated every victory in the tournament,showing a pure joy that is rarely seen in sports. Teamwork, discipline,doing what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it – any coach will tell you those are the ingredients of a championship team and the three River Parishes showed that in abundance.

The Lady Bulldogs, Lady Rebels and Lady Comets played the game the way it was supposed to be played – competitively but fairly. They gave everyplay everything they had, whether it was the first pitch of the game or the last.

Each team had to overcome obstacles to reach Alexandria. Each team hadto rally at sometime during their time there and to hold off rallies. Andeach rose to the occasion time and time again.

First, it was St. Charles Catholic, behind pitcher Marci Martin and anumber of stellar defensive gems, stifling a Vidalia in the bottom of the seventh Friday morning for a 4-1 victory. Then it was Riverside jumpingout to a 5-0 lead over North Vermilion, then holding off a four-run outburst by the Lady Patriots by combining timely hitting with clutch pitching and defense in winning 10-4. Later that day, Lutcher got ameasure of revenge against Brusly, the team that knocked the Lady Bulldogs out of the quarterfinals a year ago, brushing aside a rally in the sixth for a 4-2 win.

If Friday was the day of the hold, then Saturday was the day of the comeback. That morning, Riverside fell behind DeQuincy and pitcher AmieRosalis who had pitched 10 scoreless innings in the tournament, 2-0 heading into the fourth. But there was Marcy Remondet rallying the teamfirst with a pep talk and then with her hitting as the Lady Rebels tied the game in the fifth.

Then with two outs and none on in the bottom of the seventh, Brandi Falgoust drew a walk to keep the inning alive. Ashley Bourgeois followedwith a single, and when the outfielder bobbled the ball, coach Matt White gambled, sending pinch runner Jennifer Guidry home. Guidry made thegamble pay off, sliding in front of the throw for the inning run.

Soon after that game concluded, Martin and the Lady Comets were shaking off a three-run outburst by Buckeye in the seventh for a 6-3 victory. Andlater that afternoon, the Lady Bulldogs did the same against Mansfield in the sixth for a 4-3 victory. Third baseman Katie Cashio came up with oneof the big plays, throwing out the tying run at third for the second out.

Before Saturday, a River Parishes team had never played in the finals of a state softball tournament. Now three teams were playing for thehardware. And as if Hollywood had written the script, there were the twolongtime rivals, Riverside and St. Charles Catholic, playing for the Class2A title.

And it was everything it was predicted to be, Riverside jumping out to a 1-0 lead and both teams stifling rallies by the others with clutch pitching and defense.

Then came the bottom of the seventh with the Lady Comets’ bottom of the order due up. First, it was Kristen Clement getting the ball in play in andreaching on an error. Then it was Jessie Zeringue laying down a clutchbunt and Kristin Oberschmidt fouling off two two-strike pitches before lining a double into the gap to tie the score.

Sarah Weber doing the little things that win games, advancing the runner with a ground out. And finally, the play that typified both teams, agrounder through the hole between first and second by Alisha Reine. Reine,hustling down the line, beating the throw by right fielder Bridget Lambert who had heads-up thrown the ball to first on the only play she could make, as Oberschmidt dashed across the plate with the winning run.

The Lady Bulldogs concluded the day’s heroics, coming up with timely hit after timely hit to shake off an early lead by Catholic of New Iberia for a 15-4 victory and the Class 3A championship.

St. Charles Catholic coach Teri Hruska said Monday how proud she was ofher team, not only for winning, but also for the way it represented the school. The same could be said for all three schools. They representedthemselves, their sport, their schools, their families and their communities in a way we should all be proud of.

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