After losing the most successful senior class in school history, Hahnville head softball coach Kenneth Vial knows that his squad faces a tough road if they hope to make it to a fourth-straight state championship game.
The Lady Tigers entered the 2013 season without six players who played a huge role in the teamís past success. Summer Melancon, Courtney Dutreix, Hope Mair, Amye Barre, Hannah Haydel, Alexandra Friloux and the rest of their teammates in 2011 went down in history as the first girls from Hahnville to win a state championship in any sport. The six not only won a state championship in 2011, but played in two more state title games in 2010 and 2012.
That talent will be hard for Hahnville to replace, but the Lady Tigers do have a foundation for future success. The team returns four players who saw significant playing time last year who all landed on the District 8-5A All-District 1st team. Junior outfielder Taylor Hogan finished the 2012 season with a .274 batting average that included four doubles, a triple and 26 RBIs. Senior Pepper Baker had a .311 batting average with a double, four home runs and 18 RBIs, while junior Lauren Simar batted .333 last year with five doubles, four triples and a home run.
Senior Megan Bush is the most experienced player on the team after starting in two-straight state championship games. She had a .419 batting average last year with 10 doubles, a triple and a home run.
Vial said he will rely on his returning starters to serve as coaches on the field for his younger players.
"Thatís what we talked about with them. They have been there and they need to help bring the young ones along," Vial said. "We also talked to our young players and told them that they need to listen to our older players. Those four have all been to the state championship and they know what it takes to get there."
While Baker, Simar, Hogan and Bush will all play an important role in Hahnvilleís success this season, the player facing the most pressure is sophomore pitcher Lauren Beadle.
"Going into this year I felt the key for us will be Beadleís consistently," Vial said. "If she is consistent we will be OK. I hate putting it on her back, but is she going to be good enough to keep us in games?"
Beadle is currently 2-0 on the season and has gotten a lot better since the fall, Vial said.
"She has worked hard and has put her time in," he said. "She wants to be good, she just needs to grow up a bit."
Hahnville has gotten off to an impressive start this season with an 8-0 win over Ursuline and a 6-3 victory over East Ascension.
"Iím very pleased because in two games we have scored 14 runs, had 24 hits and only one error," Vial said. "We are really good on defense – maybe not as good as we have been in the past – but we are good there. On offense, I have nine that can hit. We donít have any weak spots."
But Hahnvilleís true test will come this week. They played St. Amant on Wednesday and will travel to Dutchtown on Friday before taking part in a tournament at St. Amant where they will face Denham Springs, Mt. Carmel and St. Josephís.
"It is a very, very tough stretch for us, but we will find out how good we are," Vial said. "I schedule these good teams because they expose you and allow you time to fix the problem before the playoffs. I would rather lose 2-1 against a good team than win 15-0. I learn a lot more in that 2-1 game."
And Vial said his squad has a lot to prove this year.
"They feel that nobody thinks they are going to be good," he said. "But they have been working hard and doing the right things."
The Lady Tigers will return home on March 7 when they face Hannan. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
|Hahnville head softball coach Kenneth Vial said the consistency of pitcher Lauren Beadle will be the key to his teamís success.|