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1998 All-River Parishes Softball Team

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

LAPLACE – The 1998 softball season had more than its share of memories.

Lutcher and St. Charles Catholic became the first River Parishes schools to bring home state championships in the sport and Riverside joined them as the first teams to reach the finals. Destrehan and Hahnville made itfive River Parishes schools participating in postseason play. And ReserveChristian added to the excellence by playing in the Louisiana Christian Schools Athletic Association state finals.

Erin Hymel Junior Pitcher Lutcher Most Valuable Player

In softball as well as baseball, it all starts and ends with the person throwing the ball. A good pitcher can take a mediocre team and make itwinners and take a very good team and make it champions.

Lutcher’s hitting was up and down throughout the season. But remainingconstant was the Lady Bulldogs’ pitching and defense. And leading the waywas Hymel, a junior, who time and time again came up with the pitch to get Lutcher out of a jam.

That was especially true in the postseason as the Lady Bulldogs’ made their run to the title. Against a solid Notre Dame team in the regionals,Hymel allowed just one hit while striking out eight in blanking the Pioneers.

In the Lady Bulldogs’ quarterfinal matchup against Brusly, the team that knocked Lutcher from the state tournament a year ago, got a strikeout with the tying run on and two outs in the sixth. The next day, Hymel did itagain, getting a ground out to get out of a two-out, bases loaded situation in the sixth with the Lady Bulldogs up by one against Mansfield. And in theClass 3A state championship game against Catholic of New Iberia, Hymel allowed just two hits over the final three innings in the Lady Bulldogs’ 15-4 victory.

Lutcher coach John Bentivegna said Hymel has really come along over the years and can spot a number of pitches for strikes, including her curve ball and rise ball.

Those variety of pitches helped Hymel make the All-District 10-3A team this past season. Hymel finished the season with a 22-2 record with asparkling earned run average of .40 and 158 strikeouts in 147 innings.Included in her 22 wins were seven no-hitters and 15 strikeouts.

For her contribution to the Lady Bulldogs’ journey to the Class 3A state championship, Hymel is the 1998 L’Observateur River Parishes Most Valuable Player.

Teri Hruska St. Charles CatholicCoach of the Year

Not too many people would have given the St. Charles Catholic LadyComets a chance to reach the Class 2A state championship game this past season. The Lady Comets lost one of their 1997 stars, Angela Klumpp, tograduation and lost two more starters before the season began.

Two losses to cross-parish rival Riverside had the Lady Comets finishing second in District 9-2A behind the Lady Rebels. Hruska spent most of theseason trying to plug the players into the right positions and the team was still not consistently hitting the ball as the postseason started.

But somewhere in the final week of the season and the first week of the playoffs, something clicked. The team came together and every playerstarted accepting their roles. Victories against Buras and Loranger sentthe Lady Comets to the state tournament in Alexandria.

Leading the charge was Hruska. Two victories later, the Lady Comets werein their first ever state championship game against a familiar opponent – Riverside. Down 1-0 and with the season down to three outs, Hruska pulledthe team together for one last pep talk. The Lady Comets responded,scoring twice to pull out the title.

For her guidance and motivation that led the Lady Comets to a season beyond their dreams, Hruska is the 1998 L’Observateur River Parishes Coach of the Year.

Tina Johnson Senior Pitcher Destrehan

Another team rising above its expectations were the Destrehan Lady Cats.

Destrehan reached postseason and advanced to the regionals for the first time in over a decade. And again it was pitching that led the way.Leading that pitching staff was Johnson, a honorable mention All-District 6-5A selection.

“Tina kept us in a lot of ballgames,” Destrehan coach Jemi LaHaye said.

Johnson finished the season with a 11-11 record with a .82 ERA and 138strikeouts. A good all-around athlete, Johnson also batted .339 and stole14 bases. She recently signed with Eastern Arizona.

Marci Martin Sophomore Pitcher St. Charles Catholic

Hruska said Martin was definitely the mainstay of the team and was the leader of a solid St. Charles Catholic pitching staff. Martin stepped it upeven more in the playoffs, allowing a total of five runs in 21 innings of work. In the championship game, Martin kept the Lady Comets in the hunt,holding Riverside to six hits and pitching out of a one-out, runner on second jam in the top of the seventh.

Martin, an All-District 9-2A selection, finished the season with a 19-7 record that included three no-hitters. The sophomore struck out 155batters while posting a 1.41 ERA. At the plate, Martin batted .360 with aslugging percentage of .445.

Jamie Picard Senior Pitcher Hahnville

Picard was consistently one of the top pitchers in the River Parishes over the course of her career with the Lady Tigers. Over the course of thatcareer, she amassed over 300 strikeouts, including 128 this season.

The ace of the Lady Tiger staff, Picard was named the District 6-5A most valuable player after completing the season with 14-2 record. Included inthose victories were seven shutouts as she compiled a .37 ERA. Shepitched two no-hitters, including one against Slidell in the bi-district playoffs in a game in which she struck out 16 batters.

While opponents had a tough time hitting against her, the same was not true when she stepped up to the plate. Picard batted .344 with 13 runsbatted in and 12 runs scored during the season.

Tanya Teague Junior Pitcher Riverside

Teague was named L’Observateur’s most valuable player as a freshman and has gotten even better each year. The junior hurler was selected as theDistrict 9-2A most valuable player after helping lead the Lady Rebels to the district title.

Teague is as cool as they come on the mound, pitching out of jams throughout the season. She opened the playoffs by striking out 14 battersin holding Christian Life to one run. Teague followed that by holdingDeQuincy to three hits in the semifinals and matched Martin pitch for pitch in the championship game.

Teague was often dominating on the mound, finishing with a 24-7 record and a .46 ERA while striking out 170 batters in 139 innings of work.

April Benn Senior Catcher Lutcher

Benn was one of the most feared hitters at the plate. The District 10-3Amost valuable player, Benn batted a sizzling .520 with nine doubles, fivetriples, five home runs and 38 runs batted in.

Benn was unstoppable in the state tournament, going 9-for-10 with four RBIs. On defense, she made a number of key defensive plays and keptrunners from trying to steal with a strong arm.

Katie Brady Junior Catcher Riverside

Brady combined with Teague to form a formidable battery for the Lady Rebels. An All-District 9-2A selection, Brady batted .381 with 22 RBIs asthe Lady Rebels’ cleanup hitter. Brady excelled behind the plate as well asat it, keeping pitches in front of her and displaying a strong arm.

Kori Guillory Senior Catcher St. Charles Catholic

Like Brady, Guillory was a force behind the plate. She called the majorityof the Lady Comets’ pitches, a rare trait for a high school catcher.

“She works well with Marci,” Hruska said. “The two of them wereexcellent together.”Guillory, a member of the All-District 9-2A team, got the job done at the plate as well, batting .278 with 23 RBIs. She was recently selected toplay in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association all-star game in June.

Kyna Boyer Senior Infielder Hahnville

Crisham missed last year with an injury and Hahnville coach E.J. Tassinsaid he was definitely happy to have her back this season. Boyer,Hahnville’s second baseman, combined with shortstop Erin Crisham to form the Lady Tigers’ version of the daily double. Crisham would get on,Boyer would move her up, usually by reaching herself, and that would set up the big sticks in the Hahnville lineup.

Boyer made things happen with a .439 batting average and .477 on-basepercentage. She was also steady in the field, making just two errors in 25games on her way to a first team 6-5A appearance.

Shannon Dolive Junior Infielder St. Charles Catholic

Hruska said Dolive did an excellent job at shortstop, a position she had never played before this season. At the new position, the All-District 9-2A selection had a fielding percentage of .905.Dolive also swung the bat very well. She batted .361 with a sluggingpercentage of .500. Batting in the middle of the order, Dolive drove in 27runs while scoring another 30.

Brandy Neal Senior Infielder Lutcher

Neal was the sparkplug for the Lady Bulldogs. Bentivegna said she was thetype of player who hated to lose and she often made the plays to prevent the Lady Bulldogs from doing so. A very good all-around player who couldget the job done at the plate, on the bases or in the field. A first team All-District 10-3A selection as a utility player, Neal batted .464 with sixdoubles, four triples, four home runs, eight stolen bases and 31 runs batted in.

Alisha Reine Junior Infielder St. Charles Catholic

Reine became a part of Lady Comet lore when she drove in Kristin Oberschmidt with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh of the Class 2A state championship game. That was just one of the clutch hitsdelivered by the All-District 9-2A selection in 1998.

Reine overcame a late season slump to lead the team with a .394 battingaverage. The junior second baseman also drove in 17 runs from the leadoffposition.

Angie Roussel Senior Infielder Hahnville

Tassin said Roussel was a good all-around person as well as a good all- around player. Roussel said Roussel did an outstanding job at third base aswell as seeing action at shortstop and in the outfield.

The four-year letterman was named honorable mention All-District 6-5A after batting .351 with 23 runs batted in.

Mandy Roussel Senior Infielder Riverside

Roussel was one of the leaders of the Lady Rebels. Coach Matt White saidshe always came to play and did a good job at first base. An All-District9-2A selection, Roussel batted .342 with 21 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

Vali Lowry Senior Outfielder Destrehan

Lowry was another team leader. Always positive and upbeat, LaHaye saidLowry was always encouraging the other players and was an outstanding team player. The team’s lead-off hitter, she led the team with a .373batting average and had 13 stolen bases and 14 RBIs to go along with a .430 on-base percentage. She was named to the All-District 6-5A secondteam.

Melissa Martin Senior Outfielder Riverside

Martin is one of the best all-around athletes to come out of the River Parishes in a long time. The senior capped her stellar career with anotherselection to the All-District 9-2A team after helping the Lady Rebels to the district championship and a berth in the Class 2A state championship game.

Martin brought leadership and experience to the team, having started since the eighth grade. White called her his coach on the field. An excellentfielder, Martin caught everything hit her way. And at the plate, she wasone of the most dangerous hitters around, batting .513 with eight homeruns, 41 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Martin has been selected to play withthe state’s best at the LHSAA All-Star game in June.

Jenee Weber Junior Lutcher Lutcher

Weber was the one who usually got things started for the Lady Bulldogs at the plate. She used her speed in the field as well as on the bases, chasingdown fly balls from one gap to the other. Weber really came through in thestate tournament, getting six hits in 11 trips to the plate, including two triples in the championship game.

Weber was a second-team All-District 10-3A selection after finishing the season with a .451 batting average, three home runs, 21 RBIs and 10stolen bases.

Amber Keller Sophomore Utility Reserve Christian

Keller helped the Lady Eagles reach the finals of the LCSAA state tournament this past season. She was named to the all-state first teamafter going 5-5 with 47 strikeouts in 46 innings. At the plate, Kellerdelivered eight hits in 26 at bats.

Crystal Loupe Senior Utility East St. John

Loupe made the All-District 6-5A team as a utility player. An outstandingfielder, Loupe caught for the Lady Cats this past season as well as seeing action as a pitcher and in the outfield. Loupe led the team in stolen basesand on-base percentage and was one of the top hitters on the team.

Tiffany Cologne Senior Designated Hitter Hahnville

Tassin said Cologne was the type of player any coach would love to have. Avery coachable player, Tassin said she was always go-go and would do anything for the team. A very good defensive catcher who did not make anerror all season, Cologne was a second-team All-District 6-5A selection after batting .284 with 29 RBIs.

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