St. Amant High School: News

57 Teams Entered in 2005 Coach "I" Memorial Tournament
The 2005 tournament honoring the late Jimmy "Coach I" Iturralde will play host to 57 teams on February 25th and 26th, 2005. The tournament will be held at Gore and Stevens Parks in St. Amant. The field will feature the 2004 Louisiana State Champions in Classes 3A, 4A, and 5A, as well as a host of State Tournament Qualifiers in their respective classifications. Here is a listing of the teams that are entered as of November 9th, 2004: St. Amant High School French Settlement School Belle Chasse High School Archbishop Chapelle High School Hahnville High School Denham Springs High School Brusly High School St. Scholastica Academy Lutcher High School Covington High School Berwick High School St. Thomas More High School Notre Dame High School H.L. Bourgeois High School Catholic High School - Pointe Coupee Huntington High School John Curtis Christian School Starkey Academy Patterson High School West Ouachita High School St. John High School Bunkie High School Erath High School Dutchtown High School Dominican High School Central High School Parkview Baptist High School Sulphur High School Mt. Carmel Academy Ponchatoula High School Ursuline Academy Walker High School Live Oak High SChool East Ascension High School Riverside Academy Riverdale High School Redemptorist High School Destrehan High School St. Charles Catholic High School Comeaux High School Vandebilt Catholic High School JV Bishop Sullivan High School West Ouachita High School JV Oak Grove High School (MS) St. Amant High School JV Belle Chasse High SChool JV Berwick High School JV Catholic High School - Pointe Coupee JV St. John High School JV Dutchtown High School JV Dominican High School JV Parkview Baptist High School JV Ursuline Academy JV Walker High School JV Broadmoor High School Destrehan High School JV Redemptorist High School JV

Completing the Cycle

SULPHUR - With St. Amant and Denham Springs already having played three times in 2005 with the games decided by a total of five runs, Lady Gators head coach Scott Nielson knew the Class 5A state championship game Saturday night was going to be a battle.

The game certainly lived up to Nielson's prediction.

Junior right fielder Casey McDonald's one-out double in the bottom of the sixth scored Lindsey Hope, giving St. Amant its record fourth-straight Class 5A state championship, 2-1, at Frasch Park.

The victory was St. Amant's third by one run in its four title games and the seventh Class 5A championship to be decided by that margin in the last 10 years. And only Vandebilt Catholic (2A-3A) and Linville (C) have won more consecutive state titles, six, in the history of the tournament than the Lady Gators' four straight.

"We knew we were in for a battle," Nielson said. "We talked about this in the hotel before we came out here. They were no secrets between these two teams. We felt like you had to get runners on base, get hits in a timely fashion, can't make errors, can't walk people. Keep them from having the big inning and have the big inning yourself. We tried to do damage control as much as possible, make them score with two hits instead of one. Just play fundamental softball."


St. Amant won its final 22 games to finish at 36-3-1, allowing just seven runs over that span.

Each of the District 4-5A rivals had won on its home field in 2005 (Denham Springs 2-0, St. Amant 3-1.) The Lady Gators defeated the Lady Jackets, 3-2, in a first-place playoff game at LSU earlier in the month.

The fourth time around was no different. With the game tied at 1, Lindsey Hope led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double to the left field fence against Denham Springs starter Linzee Sumrall. Denham Springs third baseman Ashlyn Harmon, who had made a number of nice plays earlier in the game, made another on a sharp grounder by Starla Guffey, backhanding the ball and throwing across for the out. But McDonald then took Sumrall's first pitch and lined it into the left-center field gap for a double, scoring Hope to give the Lady Gators a 2-1 lead.

"I was stressed at the plate," McDonald admitted. "I tried hard, got the right pitch and it went straight through."

St. Amant starter Leah Heintze (22-3-1) struck out Brittany Stockton to open the seventh inning before Kayla Stewart beat out a bunt. Heintze struck out Maji Qadri, then got Justine Merriot to ground to second baseman Courtney Maxwell. Maxwell flipped to Sarah Smith, who found the bag for the final out.

"I was just ready to go," Heintze said of the seventh inning in which she appeared to have a little extra on her pitches. "I was just ready to get out there. I guess I had an adrenaline rush."

Heintze allowed just three other baserunners, all in the fourth inning when Denham Springs scored its run. Ashlyn Harmon led off with a single to left and Kendra Harmon reached on a bunt back to the mound. Ashley Camp then slapped a sharp liner past Hope at third into left field, scoring Harmon to tie the game at 1.

Heintze kept it tied up by getting Stockton and Stevens on pop ups and striking out Qadri.

"That was her best performance in the four games we played them this year," Denham Springs co-coach Robbie Spangler said. "She hand-cuffed us early on."

Heintze finished with the three-hitter, striking out nine.

"I think I threw a lot harder tonight," Heintze, who had gone 2-1 against Denham Springs this year, said. "My curveball was breaking a lot more than it has before when we played them."

Sumrall was also quieting the St. Amant bats after giving up a run in the first inning, allowing just two hits and four walks over the first five innings. She finished with five strikeouts.

St. Amant took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Smith led off by slapping a single off Sumrall's leg. Maxwell bunted her to second and after Kellie Eubanks walked and Hope struck out, Guffey singled to right-center to plate Smith.

Denham Springs, a four-time state champion making its first title game appearance since 2000, finished the year at 32-4.

"We were in the game the whole time, I felt like," Spangler said. "St. Amant just out-played us. They were the better team tonight. I think we're a great team. They just out-played us tonight."

Gators top Denham Springs for Class 5A crown

SULPHUR -- St. Amant has a reputation of hitting home runs and scoring lots of runs.

It was the little things that gave the Gators a 2-1 victory over District 4-5A rival Denham Springs in the Class 5A title game at the State Farm/Fastpitch 56 Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Softball Tournament.

The pitching of Leah Heintze and timely singles by Starla Guffey, Lindsey Hope and Casey McDonald helped St. Amant garner its fourth straight Class 5A crown on Saturday night at Frasch Park.

"We've hit 44 home runs this year," St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. "But we don't live by the long ball. We try to play a fundamental game and I think that's what we did tonight."

With the victory, St. Amant becomes the first team to win four straight softball titles in 5A. The Gators (36-3-1) are 74-0 in the games they have scored runs in since 2002.

Heintze (22-3-1) gave up just three hits, struck out nine and walked none. Linzee Sumrall (32-4) gave up five hits for Denham Springs (32-4). The Yellow Jackets were in the title game for the first time since 2000.

"I think it was experience over inexperience," DSHS co-coach Robbie Spangler said. "I think we played with a lot of heart.

"I think this was Leah's best performance by far against us. I don't think it was our best performance. We got beat by the better team."

The District 4-5A co-champions did exactly what everyone expected. Sumrall and Heintze got into another pitcher's duel.

St. Amant scored first, scratching across a single run in the bottom of the first inning. Sarah Smith led off the game with a hit and was sacrificed to second. Kellie Eubanks drew a walk to put runners on first and second.

One out later, Guffey singled to score Smith, giving the Gators a 1-0 lead.

Denham Springs got its run in the top of the fourth. Ashlyn Harmon singled and then scored on a single by Ashley Camp, tying the score.

The teams traded outs until the bottom of the sixth. That's when Hope led off the inning with a double to left field. One out later McDonald singled to left, scoring Hope to give St. Amant a 2-1 lead.

Heintze allowed a one-out bunt single in the top of the seventh. But the SAHS senior ended the game with a strikeout and a groundout.

When asked to compare what his team has done to other great teams, Nielson hesitated. Instead of spouting statistics, he offered one final analysis.

"I don't know how we'd compare against any of those other teams," Nielson said. "But I've always said I'd take my nine over anybody else's."