Poirrier and St. Amant pace Riverside attack

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Sports Editor

RESERVE-Throw in a little bit of experience from a 2002 state championship and a whole lot of youth and what do you have?

The 2005 Riverside Lady Rebels Softball team.

Playing with a majority of underclassmen, the Lady Rebels have shown maturity beyond their ages as they returned to the state tournament in Sulphur after defeating Westminster 3-1.

Two of the main reasons for the success of Riverside are sophomore right-handed pitcher Nicole Poirrier and power-hitting right-fielder Jenna St. Amant. The duo has combined to give the Lady Rebels one of the best hitting/pitching combinations in the area.

A starter on the 2002 Class 2A state championship squad, St. Amant has shined in 2005, leading the Lady Rebels in many offensive categories.

St. Amant said the previous experiences of past trips to the state tournament will be invaluable to the Lady Rebels upperclassmen.

“This is our third time heading to Sulphur,” St. Amant said. “It is just amazing to be a part of Riverside softball.

“When we won state in 2002 it was great. I was really excited. I have four brothers and they don’t have a ring and I do. I really wanted to come back to Sulphur because I am a senior and every senior really wants to try and go out on top.”

St. Amant said she enjoys being looked to as one of the main offensive catalysts for the Lady Rebels.

“I like pressure,” St. Amant said. “I work good under pressure. I knew coming into this year that Daphne Zimmer and I would be looked to provide a lot of the offense.

“I love the pressure of having to come up with the big hit. I would rather be in a situation down with me at the plate as opposed to a blowout. I want to be able to step up and get that big hit for my team..”

Poirrier meanwhile has pretty much pitched the entire season for the Lady Rebels. The crafty right-hander has kept batters off balance throughout the season with an overpowering fastball and paralyzing change-up.

With the possibility of having to pitch three games in two days, Poirrier said she welcomes the challenge.

“I admit that I am a little nervous, but I can’t wait to get started,” Poirrier said.

Poirrier said she will continue to try and improve this week as she prepares for Friday’s game.

“Throughout this week in practice I just have to continue working on all my pitches and make sure that they are all working,” Poirrier said. “If that is not the case, that is where my defense picks me up.

“Pitching for a possible state championship is pressure but a good type of pressure for me to do as best as I can. Usually when I am under pressure I do a lot better.”

Not the most physically dominating pitcher in the world, Poirrier relies heavily on her defense to retire opposing batters.”

“I would say that everybody really pops up off of me,” Poirrier said. “Coach Roussel always told me that I am not going to be the strongest pitcher that he ever had. So that is where the defense comes in.

“He knows that we have a strong defense and me in the circle, it helps that I know I can hit my spots when I need to. However, even if they do hit me, I know that my defense is there.”

Rebels Head Coach Mickey Roussel says he has all the confidence in the world in Poirrier and the rest of his squad heading into the quarterfinal match-up.

“Heading into the game on Friday, she will be on eight days rest,” Poirrier said. “Hopefully she will pitch seven innings on Friday and then we continue on. Pitching five games a week is the norm during the season. So going into a pair of games hopefully on Saturday, we have played double-headers this season already for this main reason.

“Earlier in the year Nicole would just pitch one of those games, but as the season progressed so did her innings in double-headers. She would go from seven to 10-11 and it would steadily increase. That was to acclimate her to the situation that we hopefully will face this weekend.”