In a season that began filled with promise, the St. John Lady Eagles incredible run to the state championship tournament ended abruptly with a 4-1 loss to False River Academy’s Lady Gators.
Even with the loss St. John's season has been a great one.
Despite the one-and-done showing at state, the players and veteran Coach Cindy Prouty were in high spirits the day after. Making it to the playoffs came as little surprise to Prouty.
“I always felt like we had the hitting to get to where we got to but I wasn’t sure if we had the defense to do it,” she said. “And while we had three quality pitchers, we didn’t have a strikeout pitcher.”
“So we had to be able to play defense on defense and we always go up and down on defense,” Prouty said.
“I’ve got quality players, they’re fundamentally sound,” she continued. “It’s just that sometimes when the game is on the line, they lose focus and they play a little nervous and they don’t make the plays. You can’t win that way.”
Ending the season with a respectable 18-9 record, the Lady Eagles have work to do to return to the playoffs next year.
“We have to find a way to get more consistent,” Prouty said, adding over the course of the season, her girls made way too many errors – one with 22 and another with 11 to lead the pack. “I want them to know that they’re capable of doing better.”
She said she’s “intense” about the game, which leads her to gently chide her players about mistakes.
“I want my kids to be able to face anything,” Prouty said. “I just want them to be strong people and as women, we can’t lay down and let people walk all over us.”
“When they mess up, I let them know,” she said. “If I didn’t think they were capable of doing better, maybe I would. I know they’re trying, I just need for them to be a little more mentally tough.”
The game against False River Academy (FRA), a New Roads team, was a tough battle between two solid teams. White the Lady Gators won on the scoreboard, the Lady Eagles outhit them seven to one.
A walk and an error early in the game allowed FRA to score and with any team, when the opponent scores first players get rattled a little. Three other errors later in the game were harmless, Prouty said.
“Samantha (Landry) pitched very well in Sulphur,” the coach continued. “She pitched well enough to win, only giving up four hits. That’s the least amount of hits she’s had in one game.”
The Lady Eagles, on the other hand got seven hits, but their timing was off. Over the course of the game, St. John left seven or eight runners stranded on base. The Lady Gators, though, got their hits when they needed them.
Overall, Prouty was very proud, very pleased, with the play of her team throughout the season, especially their positive attitude in Sulphur.
“This year, I can say I don’t think we lost focus even though we made a couple of mistakes on defense, I think they believed they could win,” she said, continuing by saying her girls certainly have the ability to win. All nine of her starters can hit, Prouty said, and the team knocked seven home runs out of the park the season.
While this year’s softball season may have not ended the way she and her girls wanted, Prouty is “very excited about the future.”
She’ll only lose three seniors to graduation – Landry, and the Landry twins, Kynlee and Kelsey.
“We’re going to miss them,” Prouty said. “They’ve been an important part of our program for a while now.”
“We’ll get out hitting core back, though, with Alyse Wille and Kaylee Sadden and Elise Johnson, who is an incredible hitter and then we’ll have Alyssa Callegan again next year,” she continued. Prouty said that while Callegan is only a freshman this year, she got two hits in the state tournament.
“I’m really optimistic about next year,” saying she’s got several solid players who’ll be in the seventh and eighth grades next year and some of the older girls will likely make the varsity squad.
“Softball at St. John has a very bright future and I’m excited about it,” Prouty said. “We’re going to be back at state next year.”
Several of the state tournament participants talked about the game the day after..
“I felt good and I think I did pretty well,” Landry said, managing a strikeout and holding FRA to just four hits.
Alyse Willes said she knows she inconsistent and since she’ll be returning next year, she’ll be working on improving her consistency.
“One game I’ll be better on defense and another my hitting will be on,” she said. Willes went 2-for-4 at bat in the playoffs, with one RBI and a single error.
Kaylee Sadden, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, seemed to know exactly what St. John needed to have done to win over FRA.
“We need to reduce our errors and we need to get more back-to-back hits,” she said.