CCHS softball looks to cap season with title
Central Catholic shortstop Kimberly Russo makes a throw during earlier season action for the Lady Eagles. Russo and her teammates will be headed back to the state softball tournament in Sulphur for the second consecutive year with their eyes set on a Class 1A title. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
The Central Catholic Lady Eagles know the landscape and the atmosphere they will face in Sulphur.
Now, they just feel they need to finish win a state championship.
Central Catholic will get that opportunity to continue their impressive season beginning Friday in the Class 1A quarterfinals when the No. 2 seed faces the No. 10 seed St. John of Plaquemine Lady Eagles at 2 p.m. Friday at Frasch Park.
If the Lady Eagles win, they will play the winner of District 7-1A foe and No. 11 seed Hanson and No. 3 seed Ascension Catholic Saturday at 11 a.m. The finals will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Players and Central Catholic coach Joe Russo both said that having a year of experience at Sulphur is beneficial to them heading into this season.
“I think this year we’re definitely more confident and we got some experience and I think that’s a big plus for us. I know the kids are very, very hungry. Last year we didn’t want to just go there to go there and be satisfied. We played very competitive last year, but this year’s different. We’ve been there. We want to go. We (are) on a mission and we want to come home with a state championship and that’s the focus right now. We want to come home with a ring.”
A year ago, the Lady Eagles, as a No. 4 seed, suffered a mild upset by No. 5 seed and two-time defending state champion Archbishop Hannan in a 1-0 nine inning defeat via a solo home run by Archbishop Hannan’s Bailey Tuminella.
Now this year, Central Catholic (25-3) is back in the same position.
“It’s a lot easier because I’m over here practicing, and I have no stress at all,” Central Catholic catcher Elizabeth Garber said of the preparations of this year’s trip compared to 2013. “I know what it’s like. It’s just, I gotta play. That’s what I’m there for, to play. Not to worry about the fans or who’s coming watch or who I got to impress. It’s just basically the defense behind us, and me and Megan getting it done.”
This season, Landry has gotten it done on the mound for the Lady Eagles as she boasts a 24-2 mark with an earned run average of 0.85. She has struck out 298, more than have the batters she has faced this season, and issued just 22 walks and 66 hits.
Offensively, she bats .420 with 13 doubles and 13 RBIs.
Other top offensive contributors for Central Catholic include Gee Garrett (.507 batting average, four home runs, 28 RBIs and 14 stolen bases), Kimberly Russo (.450 batting average, one home run, 19 stolen bases and 10 RBIs), Bridgette Swan (.440 batting average, nine doubles, two home runs and 28 RBIs), Brittany Longman (.438 batting average, seven doubles, one home run and 27 RBIs) and Brooke Lipari (.342 batting average, a home run and 26 RBIs).
As a team, Central Catholic bats .374 with 52 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs.
Friday’s game will have a little extra meaning for Landry, who will be facing some familiar faces in her cousin, who plays for St. John, as well as a few others she knows from softball.
For Landry and other teammates like Gee Garrett, this weekend offers them the opportunity to win another state championship like they did as members of the basketball team.
Garrett said winning a title in basketball has made everyone on the softball team want to do the same.
Senior Kimberly Russo, who attended the basketball title game, said the squad is “very hungry” for a title.
“Just to see those girls win it, we want to experience that feeling together and just make our school community proud,” she said.
To achieve that goal, the squad first will have to defeat a St. John of Plaquemine team that enters Friday’s game with a 21-12 mark and coming off an 8-4 win against No. 7 seed Block.
Russo and assistant coaches David Irwin and Tommy Landry attended St. John’s game against Block and said they are scrappy but he said he felt his team continues what it has done this season, as well as with a little bit of luck that is required at this time of the year, they can win a state title.
Still, he also thinks anyone can win the title.
“You have to play,” he said.
Friday’s game as well as anyone there after the Lady Eagles play in will be broadcast on KBZE 105.9 FM and KFRA 1390 AM.