Power surge leads Pats past Rebs
Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 21, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — John Curtis and Riverside have had their share of high-stakes, down to the final at-bat showdowns, most recently in last season’s Class 2A state championship game.
But on Tuesday, the Patriots were simply just too strong.
Curtis players hit three home runs, including a Tara Stauder grand slam, while Katie Brignac and Peyton Pigniolo combined to toss a no-hit shutout as JCC took a 16-0 win over Riverside.
Brignac, Payton Adams and Stauder accounted for the Patriots’ three home runs, Stauder’s grand slam coming in a 10-run fourth inning that sealed the run-rule victory. Curtis finished with 12 hits. Adams’ home run got Curtis going in the first inning, a 3-run shot.
“I felt like we needed to start fast. Coach made sure we were focused and ready,” said Adams. “I feel like one through nine … really, one through 15 on our roster can really hit.”
Riverside coach Kristy Hebert concurred.
“I knew they’d come out and hit the ball,” said Riverside coach Kristy Hebert. “Hands down, that’s the best hitting team in the state. I wanted our team to face that.”
After last season, the Rebels saw five key seniors graduate from its core group of 2011-2013 semifinal and finalist teams. Conversely, Curtis brings back much of last season’s state champion; the Patriots (8-0) are nationally ranked at highly as 10th and have won 71 of their last 72 games.
Hebert knew what she and her players were up against, but it was all for a purpose, she said.
“It made us better. This loss, to me, makes us better a lot more than coming out and playing a team we can 15-run rule. We want to face the best teams out there so there are no surprises once the playoffs start.’
“A lot of people thought I was crazy to schedule them because they’re not in our district anymore. But I want to play them. They have trouble scheduling games because people don’t want to play them, but we’ll play them. I don’t run from anyone.”
Pigniolo walked Toni Hebert to begin the fourth inning, but Curtis pitchers were otherwise perfect, combining for seven strikeouts.
Toni Hebert started at pitcher for Riverside, going three innings before giving way to Madison Watson and Cheyenne Triche in relief.
Hebert was starting her second game this season. Triche has been the team’s primary starter for most of the season thus far, and Kristy Hebert indicated both are likely to see plenty of time going forward.
“We might have to pitch by committee and throw four different pitchers who throw four different ways to get through seven innings,” she said.
Curtis coach Jerry Godfrey said that his team entered with focus.
“When they do what we ask them to do, this is the way we can play,” said Godfrey. “No, I didn’t expect this (type of outcome). They next time we play, it might well be 2-0. They’ve got good players. I was on the other end of this six or seven years ago. It’s just part of it.”
The Rebels will have to overcome a significant loss going forward after centerfielder Caitlin Roussel suffered a broken arm in the top of the third inning while diving for a catch.
Roussel — nicknamed “Cookie” — will be tough to replace, said Kristy Hebert, but the coach said Roussel’s presence will be felt nonetheless going forward.
“She’s a great leader and she’ll continue to lead in our dugout. She’ll be right here with us,” said Hebert. “She’s a huge loss. Nobody works harder than Cookie.”