11-run 4th inning powers Riverside to quarterfinals

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

RESERVE — Riverside Academy bounced back from a slow start with an explosive 11-run fourth inning Monday to power a 12-0 shutout against Pope John Paul II, earning the Lady Rebels a spot in the Division III softball quarterfinals.

The quarterfinal round, to be played by Saturday, will pit Riverside Academy against the winner of Catholic High – New Iberia and Dunham, which takes place today (April 16).

Lady Rebels coach Tamra Regalo said likely opponent Catholic High – New Iberia is an evenly matched but mostly unfamiliar team.

The Lady Panthers boast a No. 5 ranking and a 20-9 season record, not far off from No. 4 Riverside Academy’s 17-8 standing.

With a key Lady Panthers pitcher returning to start, Regalo said her girls should prepare for the challenge the same way they prepare for any other game: focus on the task at hand and play to the best of their ability.

“They’re from a completely different part of the state, so we have not run into them, seen them play or anything like that,” Regalo said.

“We’ve got a tough road ahead, don’t get me wrong. We’re taking it one game at a time. All it takes is one bad inning.”

If successful in the quarterfinals, Riverside Academy would likely face No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the semifinals next week in Sulphur. With 29 wins and zero losses, Notre Dame seeks to end its monster season with a championship win and unblemished record.

Regalo saw no shortage of talent in Monday night’s win, but she said the Lady Rebels would have to pick up the pace to keep up with the competition.

“I think we need to jump out a little bit faster in the next game than we did (Monday), but I thought that we played well when we finally did start to hit,” Regalo said. “We’ve just got to come out with a little bit tougher mentality and play as good a defense as we have been.”

Defense has grown into a strongpoint over the course of the season as players shifted positions on the field, according to Regalo.

Emily Vicknair

Eighth grader Camryn Loving moved from behind the plate to shortstop, while eighth grader Emily Vicknair took her place in the pitching circle. Meanwhile, sophomore Chloe Simon shifted from infield to outfield.

“We’ve only gotten better,” Regalo said.

“I think we kind of found the puzzle pieces where they need to be in the defense. I’m proud of how far they’ve come and the mentality of this team. They could just say, ‘well, we’re young,’ but really we’ve played some tough competition and have played some good ball.”

After a scoreless first inning Monday evening, junior Lexi Johnson shined against Pope John Paul II with a line drive left field homer, followed by a three-run double.

The dynamite fourth inning included singles from Simon and seniors Kate St. Pierre and Avarie Hymel.

Sophomore Cara Campbell was hit by a pitch and scored a run on Pope John Paul’s error, while sophomore Ashley Hymel’s sacrifice fly ball brought in another run.

Riverside Academy’s four seniors were honored before the home game for their years of dedication to the team.

Center fielder Carli Hymel started out on the team as a right-handed batter, according to Regalo.

After sustaining a labrum injury to the shoulder, she showed strength in her ability to adapt to left-handed batting.

Regalo praised Hymel’s ability to chase the ball in the outfield.

Left fielder St. Pierre is another defensive force who has played softball since middle school.

“She’s one of our really fast kids who runs the bases well, and she’s in the heart of our lineup,” Regalo said.

In the infield are seniors Sumer Scioneaux and Avarie Hymel.

Scioneaux, a third baseman and three-year team member, started during Monday’s playoff game and got on base with a walk.

Regalo described Hymel as one of the best defensive players on the field. Hard work earned her a starting position and a sweet spot in the batting lineup.