Late homers spark St. Amant softball team

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAUSt. Amant's Kasey Nielson  right, celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the Gators' 4-1 victory over East Ascension Tuesday at St. Amant.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAUSt. Amant's Kasey Nielson right, celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the Gators' 4-1 victory over East Ascension Tuesday at St. Amant.

ST. AMANT — Two late inning home runs Tuesday helped propel the St. Amant softball team to a 4-1 come-from-behind victory over East Ascension, clinching the District 5-5A crown.

“We showed a lot of resolve in this game,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “We stayed focused after we got down. We knew that, offensively, we could score runs off of just about anybody, and we had some quality at-bats when we needed them.”

The win sealed an undefeated season in district for St. Amant (23-2, 10-0) and extended its win streak to 23 straight games. The Gators host Parkview Baptist at 5 p.m. Wednesday for their final regular-season game before the playoff brackets are
announced this weekend.

A big reason for the win was the play of senior starting pitcher Kasey Nielson, who was dominant in the circle and in the batter’s box.

In six innings, she allowed one run on four hits and struck out three. She helped her cause in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run home run to give
St. Amant a three-run lead.

“She’s been very consistent for us in the circle for the past couple of years,” Scott said. “To hold them to only four hits, we are very proud of that. She also came up to the plate for a prime time at-bat in a prime time situation and came through.”

At one point in the game, East Ascension (19-8, 6-4) starting pitcher Kendall Burgess was baffling St. Amant’s hitters, retiring nine of the 11 she faced in innings two through four, but she could not hold on to a one-run cushion.

“I thought we played hard and that’s all that I can ask for,” Spartans coach Amy Pitre said. “I thought Kendall stepped in the circle and did a great job. But good hitters are going to make adjustments, and that’s exactly what St. Amant did. We have to score more than one run to beat good teams.”

After three scoreless innings, East Ascension got on the board first when Brooke Delaune lined a two-out single to center field, scoring Bailey Landry from second.

Landry, an LSU signee, showcased her speed most of the afternoon with a stolen base to move into scoring position for Delaune and also covered the gaps in center field to steal a couple of base hits.

She went 1-for-3 and scored the Spartans’ only run.

“It’s fun to have her on the team because she brings so much to this team,” Pitre said of Landry. “With her speed, she can bunt for a base hit at any time, and she covers some ground in the outfield. She can do whatever you ask her to do.”

With the win streak in jeopardy, St. Amant tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch from Burgess that allowed Kara Gremillion to score from third. Two batters later, Brooke Roberts launched a full-count pitch from Burgess over the wall in center.

It was her third home run of the season, and it gave St. Amant the lead for good.

“Brooke got a pitch up in the zone that she could drive and didn’t miss it,” Nielson said. “It’s a great day to clinch the district with an undefeated record against a quality East Ascension team.”