Softball only had enough time to get the gloves broken in last year before COVID-19 slammed the door shut on the 2020 season.
As the 2021 season nears, Pointe Coupee Parish’s three softball coaches are ready to go, and grateful to have the chance.
“We need to be grateful for every day we get out here,” said Lauren Doucet, Catholic High of Pointe Coupee coach. “We’ve told them, make sure you get your best out of the season.”
“I think they have done a real good job of being positive,” said Savanah Pearce, first-year coach at False River Academy. “They are grateful to play.
“I’ve said every day is a blessing. Soak in every moment.”
Then there is the excitement of a new season.
“We’re an extremely young team, but we’ve really excited,” said Guy Blanchard, who will be in his first year as coach at Livonia.
“We only have two seniors. We will be able to say in 2023 we’re returning seven starters,” he said.
Senior catcher Bryanna Rodriguez will be looked to for a leadership role. Blanchard ran down his lineup’s age, which includes two eighth-graders, two freshman and two sophomores.
“We’re not writing off anyone. They have to earn it,” to play, he said.
Doucet, whose Hornets won the Division IV state title in 2019, has the opposite situation.
“We have a good, strong crew returning,” Doucet said. “We lost two seniors, but we have a lot of good older players with some fresh talent coming in. We have four quality pitchers and four quality catchers.”
Doucet’s pitching staff includes both starters from last season, Southeastern Louisiana signee Blaire Bizette and Rebecca Frye. Taylor Bonaventure, who was injured in the first game last year, is back along with eighth-grader Morgan Landry.
False River also has an older makeup, Pearce said, with six seniors.
“But we have no juniors,” she said and a large balance of the team are freshmen.
“Every younger player has to step up and play big roles,” she said.
Meanwhile, Blanchard finds himself as the salesman of the Wildcat program.
“The girls are buying in; the parents are buying in; the community is buying in,” to the changes Blanchard has brought in, he said.
Sitting outside his door is the dirt conditioner for a new infield. New signs, plans to move the right field fence to have a bullpen area and batting cage and a new backstop are in the plans.
“Eventually we will add lights,” he added.
Beside the facilities, Blanchard said the challenge is to teach the proper approach to the game.
“I have said if we are good of the middle, pitcher, catcher, shortstop, centerfield, we have a chance to be solid,” he said. “One of the stats I work on is quality and productive at-bats.
A quality at-bat for Blanchard is, “Even if they strike out, make them pitch. If we get six pitches, we’ve seen her repertoire. We have an approach at the plate, that’s new to the girls. We have an 0-2 approach like we have a 2-0 approach.”
False River has already gotten in three scrimmages, with plans to be in the Brusly Jamboree on Saturday, Feb. 13.
“In the scrimmages, our defense needs a little work, but our hitting is stronger than I expected,” Pearce said. “They’re going out there with a positive attitude.”
Blanchard also saw his Wildcats improve in their scrimmage with Opelousas Catholic.
“We saw a lot of good things once they calmed down after the first inning,” he said. “After we got over our nerves, our bats got better.
“We were gun-shy and swung at a lot of pitchers but as the game went on, we were more selective and had better at-bats,” he said.
“The kids can play in so many positions,’ Doucet said. “The younger kids are pushing the older kids. Grade and age don’t matter. We want to see our kids compete for positions, bring everything to the game.”