Riverside Academy claims Division IV softball state title

Published 11:31 pm Saturday, April 29, 2023

RESERVE — Junior Amber Palermo went the distance for Riverside Academy in the LHSAA Division IV Select softball finals, throwing 48 strikes to shut out Catholic of Point-Coupee and secure the first state title in more than 20 years.

The game ended in a score of 5-0 Saturday afternoon at Frasch Park in Sulphur. After going scoreless for the first three innings, the Lady Rebels brought home two runs in the fourth with an RBI on a left field hit from senior Emily Vicknair, followed by a home run from freshman Olivia St. Pierre. Riverside added another three runs in the fifth. After the girls capitalized on an outfield error to make the score 3-0, St. Pierre returned to the plate with a single to drive in two base runners. Riverside had a total of 12 hits for the victory, and Palermo ended the afternoon with 85 pitches, two strikeouts and the MVP title.

“Amber had had some phenomenal games this year, and this was one of them,” head coach Tamra Regalo said. “She was in a really good headspace. She was confident. Whenever you see that look in her eye, she’s going to go out there and she means business. She stayed consistent, and she didn’t try to do it alone. Her defense played behind her the whole game.”

According to Regalo, junior Corrin Cashio’s diligence at second base was a major factor in Riverside’s success.

Saturday’s win marked Riverside’s second state title and third appearance in the finals. The Lady Rebels were softball state champions in 2002 and runners-up in 1998, before any of the girls currently on the team were born. However, Riverside Academy has appeared in the semifinals for 10 of the past 12 years, including the past six consecutive seasons. Many of the upperclassmen on this year’s squad have played in the state tournament from the time they were middle schoolers and have always seen their season cut short just before the finals – until this weekend.

Finally clutching that championship trophy was especially satisfying for seniors Camryn Loving, Ava Fernandez, Lea St. Pierre, Sydney Knoy, Anna Mistretta, Alainah Felton and Emily Vicknair.

“They were definitely very emotional after the game. We have a lot of upperclassmen who been here and have always fallen just a little bit short but who we knew had the capability of winning it. This year, all just came together. It was our year,” Regalo said.

Riverside Academy ends the 2023 season with a record-setting 65 homeruns. During Friday’s semifinals against St. Fredericks, Loving hit it out of the park, while Mistretta and Felton each doubled to drive in runs for a 7-4 win.

Riverside Academy saw a lot of support from home this weekend as fans packed the stands and watched the girls rally for the long-awaited win. With pitcher-catcher duo Palermo and St. Pierre returning next season, among other talented athletes, Regalo is confident the Lady Rebels softball program can continue to build upon its tradition of success.