Dry spell over: St. John wins first district softball title in six years

Staff Report

The wait is over for the St. John softball team.

An 11-1 rout over visitor Ascension Christian last Thursday paved the way for the Eagles to capture their first District 7-1A championship since 2016.

“We’ve been on a dry spell,” head coach Cindy Prouty said. “We couldn’t beat Ascension Catholic for a few years and then Ascension Christian had a couple years where they won it.

St. John 8th grader Charli Neuman is greeted by jubilant teammates at home after her grand slam in an 11-1 win over Ascension Christian, which gave the Eagles their first district title since 2016.

“We beat Ascension Catholic 2-1 last year but lost 2-1 to Ascension Christian so we had to settle for second, she said. “But this year, and hopefully for the next few years, I really want us to have a run.”

Charli Neumann (3-for-4) propelled St. John with six runs on three hits. The eighth-grader belted a grand slam in the third inning and smacked a homer in the sixth inning.

The Eagles piled six runs in the third, with RBIs from Neumann, Cassidy Cannella and Kynleigh Rhymer.

Rhymer allowed the Lions one run on one hit. She struck out 10 and walked one.

The Eagles still need to clean up the game before the post-season fray begins, Prouty said.

Class 5A foe Live Oak took advantage of six Eagle errors for an 11-6 win on Saturday in Watson.

Ali Mancuso beats the catch to steal second base for St. John in action against Ascension Christian.

While the St. John already had the district title in the bag, a win over the highly regarded Live Oak – a perennial state contender – would have been a big help, Proudy said.

“We missed the opportunity to beat a quality 5A school, which would have helped us in the power ratings,” she said.

Individually, Rhymer continues to make solid showing at the mound (11-2, 1.89 ERA) and at the plate (.537, 23 RBIs), while Kaylee Richard remains strong at bat (.480, 16 RBIs). Neuman has stepped as DP (.451, 24 RBIs).

Prouty said she hopes for a stronger showing from catcher Cassidy Canella.

“She started the season on fire but she is in a bit of a slump,” she said. “She’s still batting .449 with 12 RBIs.”

Meanwhile, Ali Mancuso suffered a broken nose during practice Friday evening, just when she turned her season around, Prouty said.

“She started off slow, but has since started hitting like a champ (.311, 13 RBIs),” she said.

Prouty said freshman Karsyn Vadnais has also stepped up her game, doing well defensively and hitting .429.

“She’s also our number-two pitcher and has done well when she gets an opportunity at the mound,” Prouty said. “Now we need juniors Baylie Romero, Emma Perry and Emily Burleigh to step up their game.

“If we can get those three going, we will be a contender,” she said. “We’ve got what it takes – we just have to put it all together.

St. John will face quality foes next week when they battle Thibodaux High and neighboring rival Brusly, a perennial Class 3A contender which will move up to 4A next season.

“Quality competition will help lead us into postseason play,” Prouty said. “I’m excited to see where we go.”

Prouty hopes to see the 2022 Eagles experience the same exuberance she and her teammates enjoyed when they won the Class 1A state title in 1985.

But it will mean ending the “one-and-done” scenario the Eagles have endured over the last few years.

“I’m hoping this year we can get the monkey off our back,” she said.