Exceeding Expectations: West St. John softball runs path to improvement

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

EDGARD — Guided by raw athleticism, the West St. John High softball program is on a path of steady growth despite a history of difficult seasons.

Head coach Kenneth Streeter said a repectable  3-4 record exceeds expectations from the past two years, and he sees a potential for top-notch gameplay as the girls continue learning the ins and outs of softball.

“We’re moving forward, getting a better understanding of the game and we snatched a 3-2 start,” Streeter said.

“They’re learning the program, what to do and what not to do. The girls are competitors, and they love the game. That’s what I like about them.”

The Lady Rams started 2-1 in District, with 11-1 and 27-1 victories over St. Martin’s Episcopal and Varnado, respectively, and a 0-15 loss against Houma Christian.

Game results have been polarizing, with landslide victories and shutout defeats occurring within the same week, signaling a need for consistency.

Streeter said a team of excellent assistant coaches equipped with pitching and catching expertise is helping student athletes implement new skills during practice.

“Our assistant coaches are West St. John alumni,” Streeter said. “They know the community, and they know the girls.”

All 15 girls play multiple sports at West St. John and bring athletic talents to the softball team, according to Streeter.

He said Amiya Lumar has been a standout, playing center field and left field.

“She is just a naturally born, pure athlete,” Streeter said. “Her range is unbelievable. With hitting, she’s really cracking the ball. I depend on her when we want to get people on base.”

Senior third baseman Talika Howard has come into her own since joining the team last year, Streeter said. She boasts strong range and provides leadership to the team as captain.

Talika’s hitting has been shaky, but Streeter said the balls she gets ahold of fly far.

Sisters Ja’Rae and Jazmen Jackson are pure athletes and multitalented players, Streeter said.

Jarae’s strong arm has led to many outs at first and third from second base, and Jazmen always gets a hit to move the team forward during crunch time.

Senior Shiaa Thomas is the team’s go-to pitcher, and Streeter said her talents have carried the team for a long time. Base running is her other strength, and she brings an unmatched quickness on the field.

“Her speed on the bases is unbelievable,” Streeter said. “We count on her getting to first.”

Pitcher Kyli Vontoure is an underclassman who has seen an effortless transition from middle school sports, Streeter said. With time, he suspects Kyli will be able to play any position.

Tiye Walters joined the team late last year, coming from basketball. Over the past year, she’s proved herself a great asset in center field and left field.

Learning the game of softball benefits players beyond the field, Streeter said. With each practice, the girls undergo teambuilding exercises to foster camaraderie and improve communication. He said today’s softball program, focused on fast pitch, is a different world than the game team members’ mothers grew up playing.

Streeter believes community support would help the longstanding softball tradition reach new heights.

“If you live in Edgard and your daughter or niece is playing softball, please come out and support the kids,” Streeter said. “It would mean the world to them to have people see how they’re growing.”