Lady Rebels quietly reving up for run at 2A title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Despite 18 losses, Roussel says squad playing well heading into playoff run


Sports Editor

RESERVE-Quick, what would your first reaction be if I said a team was 16-18 on the season?

Struggling, rebuilding, coach on the hot seat?

I bet the last words that would cross your mind would be playoff contender.

That is what is happening to Mickey Roussel’s Riverside Lady Rebel softball team.

Very quietly, Roussel’s squad is moving along to the state playoffs in Class 2A and will be one of the favorites to perhaps come home with the state crown.

But with a 16-18 record?

Playing the likes of St. Amant, Vanderbilt Catholic South Beaguard and Dutchtown, the Lady Rebels have played up in their out of district games to get ready for play in district 10-2A.

The evidence is quite clear that it has been successful as the Rebels are a perfect 8-0 in district play.

As with any good softball team, Riverside relies on a ace in the circle in the form of sophomore sensation Nicole Poirrer. The right-hander is 16-15 on the season with a 1.84 ERA. In 159 innings of work, she has struck out 117 on the season and walked on 14 while giving up only 42 earned runs.

While Poirrer has kept the Lady Rebels in games, the four-headed monster of Jenna St. Amant, Lori Bourgeois, Daphne Zimmer and Marci Millet have provided the offensive bunch for Riverside.

Playing right field for the Lady Rebels, St. Amant’s .395 average and 24 runs driven in are tops on the team. She has also scored 25 runs.

Over in left field, Bourgeois is having equally as lethal of a season, hitting .370 on the year, driving in 17 runs and scoring 23 of her own.

In the infield, Zimmer is hitting .367 for the season at shortstop, driving in 22 and scoring a team-high 30 runs.

Millet rounds out the fearsome foursome of Lady Rebel hitters, hitting .337 on the season, driving in 20 and scoring 25 while playing a solid first base.

Roussel said his squad is really coming into their own and their 16-18 record is deceiving.

“Last year I thought we were one of the top 2A teams going into the playoffs,” Roussel said. “And I told the girls that we probably would have 13-15 losses. If you look at our schedule and who we play as a 2A program, we are going to play St. Amant, Dutchtown, Vanderbilt Catholic and Lutcher more than once. They are all 3-4 and 5A schools that make the playoffs so if we can just compete.

“We don’t talk about records because unlike football where you divide by the number of games you play, softball is strictly your district games. You don’t have to play a non-district schedule and still make the playoffs. Our philosophy is play the big schools. It is not like we are putting a helmet and chin strap on and being beat up physically. You just want to go in knowing that you probably have a mountain to climb, but keep it all in perspective that you are playing better schools to get better if you want to win something that counts.”

One of the biggest reasons for the Lady Rebels being in so many games is the success of Poirrer in the circle. Only a sophomore, Roussel said his ace’s best games are still in front of her.

“We cannot just solely ride her,” Roussel said. “People have to remember that she is only a sophomore. She is not going to strike out 12-15 batters a game like we use to have in the circle. Nicole is going to keep us in the game.

“Our strength is her spot-throwing the ball, getting a few strikeouts, not giving up the long ball and playing great defense. I knew early on hitting was going to be our achilles heel, but we are starting to swing the bat a whole lot better as of late. She is good enough to keep us in the game and she is only going to get better.”

While Poirrer is solid in the circle, perhaps the surprise has been the way Roussel’s squad has hit the ball as of late.

“One of the biggest things that we really worked hard on since the start of practice was hitting,” Roussel said. “I knew early on because of how young we are and the schedule that we faced, we were only getting 2-3 hits a game. Now we are really starting to swing the bat well.

“We are really starting to swing the bat well in the last couple of weeks. We need to do that if you want to win something that is important. Hopefully our pitching is where it needs to be, our defense is getting better and better and now we are starting to hit the ball. Hopefully we are doing all three of these things well at the right time.”

Roussel said St. Amant and Bourgeois are really seeing the ball well when it matters the most.

“They have really been hitting the ball well,” Roussel said. “Jenna has really been seeing the ball well. We are really getting our “pups” growing up. I really like where we are and you have to be playing well if you want to win when it matters the most.”