The Parkway Lady Panthers coaching staff sported new, red Converse All-Stars for the team’s first state quarterfinal contest on Friday afternoon, but the nifty shoes couldn’t keep powerful St. Amant at bay.
The Lady Gators scored all the runs they needed in the first inning and cruised to a run-rule 10-0 win to end the Lady Panthers’ season in the LHSAA Class 5A state quarterfinals at Frasch Park.
“We were nervous early because our girls haven’t seen a crowd six- to seven-deep like it is here,” Parkway coach Neil May said. “After the first couple of the innings, we settled down and had some opportunities offensively. Then it kinda got out of hand late.”
A perennial playoff participant, St. Amant (25-2) was challenged by coach Scott Nielson to put away the game in the sixth inning. That the Lady Gators did with consecutive hits from Ali Delany, Kara Gremillion, Madison Edmonston, Brooke Roberts and Kourtney Gremillion to score four runs and end the contest.
“We knew coming in that Parkway was an excellent team and were well-coached by coach May,” Nielson said. “We didn’t want to give them three more outs to score runs. Both teams felt each other out early, but our kids were able to make some adjustments. This was a good win for the school of St. Amant.”
The Lady Panthers (19-9) couldn’t get much offense going against Kasey Nielson, daughter of the coach. And the loss spelled the end of the prep career of Parkway seniors Danielle Cruickshank, Cheyenne Rogers and Alexys Ayers.
“In the beginning, we were so pumped up. They scored two runs in the first but we knew it wasn’t over,” Cruickshank said. “We didn’t see the ball as well as we have most of the time this year. We put up a good fight for most of the game, but at the end they started creaming the ball. I know all of us are proud just to have made it to this tournament.”
Parkway managed just four hits off Nielson, while Rogers surrendered 11 in her final time in a Lady Panthers uniform. She kept the Lady Gators off-balance for the first four innings, until they figured her out in the fifth and sixth.
A homerun by Gremillion to open the fifth staked St. Amant to a 4-0 lead and seemed to open the flood gates. The Baton Rouge-area team would post seven hits in the next nine batters.
Parkway threatened in the third when Mary Kate Bozeman and Carol Cash singled to open the inning. Two outs later, Cruickshank walked to load the bases, but the runners were stranded.
“I don’t think we would have done anything differently,” May said. “The girls got a good experience by being here and they fought their tails off against a great St. Amant team. We will be back here.”