Nicole Poirrier wins top prep sports moment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005


Sports Editor

RESERVE — Awards usually go to people or teams that won things, with only a few rare exceptions.

If you look up the definition of rare exception, it will show a picture of Nicole Poirrier.

The sophomore right-hander from Riverside Academy was perhaps the gutsiest player of the year due in large part to her performance against South Beauregard in the state quarterfinal game where she broke her nose and bruised her ribs in a loss.

Poirrier was excited to be recognized by the L’Observateur audience as the winner of the top prep sports moment.

“I think that is a honor that people think that my story was one of the top stories from all the prep stories that they had,” Poirrier said. “I would have thought that (St. Charles Catholic pitcher) Mary Clement or (Riverside pitcher) Jordan Poirrier would have gotten this award because their moments were when they won games and actually moved on. We were finished. That was our last game of the season.”

Heading into the 2005 season, the sophomore right-hander knew that a lot of responsibility would be placed on her shoulders.

“Before the beginning of the season we all have individual meetings with (Head Coach) Mickey Roussel,” Poirrier said. “He told me that I was going to be the starting pitcher and I knew what I had coming to me and what I had to do. I had been on the team since my eighth grade year and I had watched pitchers before me. I knew I had to step it up to do even better.

“I knew that we were going to have a good hitting ball club. I knew that my job was to do as much as I could in the circle because I knew that we were going to be okay defensively. That was the type of team we were. We were a defensive team and our hitting came along as the season progressed.”

While the Rebels district left much to be desired, Roussel’s out-of-district schedule was perhaps the toughest in the State of Louisiana, something he knew his team had to have to prepare them for the playoffs.

Going up against the likes of Teurlings Catholic and taking part in the Sulphur tournament, Poirrier said she was surprised at first at how well the young Rebels responded.

“I didn’t expect that at the beginning of the season,” Poirrier said. “I didn’t think at the beginning of the season that we would have came out how we did. All the teams we played, we went into 9-10, and even 11 innings. I didn’t expect that with this team that we had because we were so young. We had only three seniors and a first-year catcher. None of us really expected to do that well at the beginning of the season.

“Because our district was not the toughest in the world, we knew that we would have a really good chance to make the playoffs. We just wanted to be ready when that time rolled around.”

Heading into the playoffs, Poirrier said she thought her team had the chance to have a special run.

“I definitely thought that we were playing well heading into the playoffs,” Poirrier said. “We were together. We were all ready to play. Our hitting came along, we really could not have done anything more than what we did heading into Sulphur.”

Pitching both games, including the second-round game at home, Poirrier was excited to help her team return to the state tournament in Sulphur.

“Clinching a spot to the state tournament on our own field was great,” Poirrier said. “Knowing that I was only a sophomore and helping this team make it to Sulphur was really a nice feeling.”

Heading into her first state tournament as a significant contributor on the team, Poirrier was excited and anxious to take on their quarterfinal opponent.

“I was very excited, but had a lot of nerves,” Poirrier said. “I knew that if we played the way that we had played all season that we might have a chance.

“Going up South Beauregard for a third time this season kind of added to the nerves because we had played them twice already and loss. But remember the old saying that it is hard to beat a team three times. When the game actually started, the nerves for everybody actually subsided. It was kind of upsetting considering things going up against a team like South Beauregard in the quarterfinals because we knew that one of the better teams in Class 2A had to go home early.”

An “interesting” bus ride to Sulphur started off the Rebels trip to a possible state championship.

“We got up there and our bus broke,” Poirrier laughed. “That was disappointing to say the least.”

Playing before a packed and raucous crowd, Poirrier said that it actually calmed her nerves as well as her teammates.

“I really think that calmed us down,” Poirrier said. “Knowing that we actually had that many people behind us knowing that we could do good was pretty exciting and really built up our confidence.”

After striking out the side in the top of the first, Poirrier was paced to a 2-0 lead after the Rebels pushed across a pair of runs in their first at-bat.

“After striking out the side in the first inning I calmed down a lot,” Poirrier said. “Then after we got a 2-0 lead I just told myself that this was just like any other game and I was going to go in there like I always did.”

Perhaps the story of the game outside of Poirrier’s performance was the pitching change by South Beauregard, brining in the junkballer Sam Jagneaux.

“That was a very hard adjustment to make at the plate,” Poirrier said. “We really didn’t expect them to do that. They were replacing their ace. We were not ready for her, she threw a lot slower and all week we were preparing for the heat.”

With the game tied heading into the eighth inning, the Rebels put the first two runners on bringing Poirrier the hitter to the plate.

“I knew our situation and what I was going to be expected to do,” Poirrier said. “I knew that I was going to have to bunt. We practice every day to lay down the bunt. I knew what I had to do. On the first try he (Roussel) told me to try and drag bunt and I am not usually a person that does that. After not being able to do it the first time, he switched it and just said to try and sacrifice. Now I was just trying to do whatever I could to try and get the ball into fair territory on the ground.

“It felt like forever waiting for the pitch to come. I think it was because I was nervous and wanted to do well and lay down the bunt. My first reaction when the ball hit me was an ‘Ow’. It hurt a lot. I think I was more shocked then anything. I never would have thought something like that would have happened. I was trying so far.”

Falling to the ground in pain, Poirrier was immediately surround by medical staff as well as the Rebels coaching staff.

“While I was on the ground my mom asked me if I was okay,” Poirrier said. “The paramedics told me how to stop the bleeding. I was just crying. Everybody was around me, I couldn’t see anything. They were making me more nervous.

“Coach Roussel wanted to bring in a pinch-hitter but I told him I wanted to bat. He asked me if I was sure that I could do it. I told him yes. Then he asked me if I wanted to bunt again. I said no.”

Poirrier was retired a pitch later and the threat ended.

Heading into the bottom of the eighth and deciding inning, Poirrier said she still was feeling the effects mentally and physically of the top of the inning.

“I was still hurting because of my nose of course,” Poirrier said. “But I was more upset at myself that I could not help my team out in that specific situation that I needed to.”

In the bottom of the inning, South Beauregard opened the inning with a single and a Riverside error that put a runner on second base with no outs.

“I really didn’t think that it hit me when she hit the double,” Poirrier said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

After a bunt moved the runner to third base, the deciding hit came a pitch later as a screamer was lined off of Poirrier’s chest and South Beauregard pushed across the game-winning run.

“It was an inside fastball if I remember,” Poirrier said. “I think I was just shocked because I had just got hit in the nose and now I got hit in the gut. I fell and I saw the ball rolling out in front of me. I tried to go get it. I was telling our catcher to get the ball, but they had already scored and it was too late.

“The bunt off the nose was more painful. I was hurt. They (South Beauregard) beat me up. I had the wind really knocked out of me.”

Happy that they had won, the celebration of the South Beauregard fans and teams stopped instantaneously once that they discovered how hurt Poirrier was and did not resume until they realized she was okay.

Fighting back tears to this day, Poirrier said she greatly appreciated the sportsmanship displayed at that moment.

“That was definitely very nice of them to do that,” Poirrier said. “For them to wait and see if I was okay and clap for me when I got up was really special.”

One of the most competitive players on the team, Poirrier felt she had let her teammates down.

“I know that when I got hit in the nose nobody expected me to come back,” Poirrier said. “When I did that was a plus, but when I got hit in the ribs I thought I lost the game because I couldn’t get to the ball.’

While the Rebels returned to their hotel, one Rebel had a different location after the game.

“It was kind of sad because everybody was at the hotel eating jambalaya and I was at the hospital with a broken nose and bruised ribs,” Poirrier said. “Usually when I get hurt, like when I got in my car accident, I just want to talk about it. So the whole ride there I was talking about it.”

“That next day I woke up and I was crying. My mom asked me what was wrong and I told her that I could be playing today and I’m not. But I guess everything happens for a reason. Today I wish I could go back in time, but this is something that I will never forget.”