Prep stars set for college level after signing during early window

Hahnville's Alijah Hamilton signs with McNeese State.

Tyler Oubre said the dream she’s had almost all her life came true.

“It’s been my whole goal to play college softball, since I was about eight years old,” said Destrehan’s ace pitcher, who recently signed with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. “It’s been my dream since I was little and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

Oubre signed at a special ceremony held to honor the occasion, one of several St. Charles Parish star student-athletes to make their collegiate destination official this December during the NCAA’s early signing window.

At Hahnville, three Tiger athletes put pen to paper as well during an early signing ceremony held by the school. Talented defensive back Alijah Hamilton signed on with McNeese State on a football scholarship, while softball stars Makenna Cortez and Kathryn Smith each signed letters of intent as well, Cortez with the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Smith with Jones College.

Traditionally in years past, the St. Charles Parish school district held a joint ceremony between its two high schools in the spring on National Signing Day, held the first week of February each year and what was once the lone date to officially open signing. But with the advent of the early signing date each December, these ceremonies have been split seasonally and, in the winter period, by schools. With COVID-19 precautions in place, there have been more individual ceremonies to honor signees.

Oubre’s junior season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling all spring sports in Louisiana. It interrupted a highly anticipated season for the Ladycats following the team’s longest postseason run ever in 2019, as Oubre led the team into the state quarterfinals during a dominant sophomore season: she posted a 1.58 ERA that season and allowed just one earned run in 27 playoff innings. That included a 13-inning classic against Northshore that saw her go the complete game, earning 16 of her 274 strikeouts on the season in that game.

Tyler Oubre
Destrehan’s Tyler Oubre winds up and delivers to an opposing batter.

She said ULL checked off everything she wanted.

“I talked to a few people who have played there … they all said it’s the best environment to be in,” Oubre said. “That fanbase is amazing, the coaching staff is amazing. People who I know who live in Lafayette love it so much. I’m really excited.”

Like Oubre, Hahnville’s three signees have made tremendous impacts on their respective programs and will soon have a chance to do the same at the next level.

Hamilton made a big impact with the Tigers after transferring from John Ehret as a sophomore two years ago. He played two years at cornerback before moving to safety as a senior – his experience and status as a veteran player valuable in that spot in what was a young secondary this past season. The 5’11, 180 lb. senior made 97 tackles and intercepted six passes in his final season, and was also an electric playmaker in the return game

He helped the Tigers reach the Class 5A state championship game as a sophomore, then back-to-back winning seasons in each of the past two years.

Cortez and Smith, meanwhile, garnered the eye of collegiate coaches despite the cancellation of the 2020 softball season after the Tigers’ first 11 games. While their junior year was cut short – the Lady Tigers were 9-2 at the time of the cancellation – the two players put plenty on display in their respective sophomore seasons.

Hahnville’s Makenna Cortez enjoys the moment at her signing day. Cortez signed with the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Cortez batted .404 with a .509 on-base percentage and drove in 28 RBIs in 2019 for the Tigers. The versatile defensive player is capable of playing several spots on the field and has done so for Hahnville, playing throughout the infield and outfield.

Smith, meanwhile, brings a big bat. She entered the Hahnville record book as a sophomore in 2019: she stands as the Tigers’ all-time single season home run champion with 11 round trippers. She batted .387, drove in 33 RBIs and got on base at a .487 rate.

Hahnville’s Kate Smith waves to a supporter at Hahnville’s recent early signing ceremony. Smith signed with Jones College.

 

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