Destrehan head coach Kenneth Montz didn’t downplay the blow his team suffered when ace pitcher and University of Louisiana-Lafayette signee Tyler Oubre suffered a break in her left, non-pitching arm during the team’s recent district championship game against Hahnville.
“We were pretty down for awhile,” Montz said. “It’s a tough injury on so many levels … we were playing pretty well and felt we had as good a shot as anyone to make a deep run. The girls were down, the coaches were down … but now we’re moving forward.”
The Wildcats lost that game to Hahnville, a battle that was tied at the time of Oubre’s injury. The unfortunate play came on a line drive back to the mound with one out in the third inning. It likely brings what’s been a stellar career in a Destrehan uniform to an end, though Oubre will take the field again next year in Lafayette as a member of the Cajuns as she gets collegiate career started. She was named to the 2019 All-State team as a sophomore and followed up with a strong abbreviated season in 2020.
Her legacy at the school was cemented during that 2019 season, her sophomore year, when Destrehan made its first-ever run to the Class 5A quarterfinals. Oubre pitched three complete games – one a 13-inning, 16 strikeout masterpiece – and allowed just a single earned run over 27 innings of work.
Destrehan (19-10) went into 2020 with great excitement and high expectations, with the core of very young team from the 2019 run looking ahead to two seasons of building on that success. The cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 denied them the first chance to follow up on it, and now they must move forward this season into the playoffs without their senior ace and one of their leading hitters.
“We met with the seniors the day after (the Hahnville game) and talked about being good leaders, good teammates. We’ve leaned on Tyler a lot. I think we’ve probably been a bit spoiled by her. So now, we have to step it up offensively. We have to play better defense and rally around one another.”
Oubre’s injury was the latest in a season of them for the Wildcats. The silver lining is some of the players who missed time earlier this season have since returned, strengthening the lineup and allowing players to return to their normal defensive positions.
Destrehan had to return to the field a day after the Hahnville loss to face Vandebilt Catholic, a 5-0 loss. A 10-4 loss followed two days later to De La Salle.
But in their next game, the Wildcats toppled H.L. Bourgeois 8-4 to finish District 7-5A play with a single loss, and Destrehan began to find footing.
“I think we have kind of started snapping out of it,” Montz said. “We had to go right back out there to play, and I don’t think we were past it as a group. But we came back and played much better (against Bourgeois) to get a win.”
Kandyn Mustacchia steps in on the mound for Destrehan in Oubre’s absence, and Montz said the junior has shown be capable.
“She’s given us a chance and pitched well enough to win,” Montz said following the Bourgeois victory. “In some cases, we didn’t swing the bats well enough.”
The team has the talent to generate run support, particuarly at the top of the order where seniors Alyssa Vicknair, Emma Rome, Moriah Ocmond and Chelsea Franck are posting strong seasons.
“We’ve batted those seniors 1 through 5 (including Oubre) most of the season and they know it’s on them to lead us. We go as they go,” Montz said. “Nobody ever said this was going to be easy, and from adversity you learn life lessons. You have to face it, and it comes down to how you handle it. So talking to the seniors, we told them this is a chance to reveal your character.”
The team battled hard but ultimately came up short on Monday at home against Mandeville, who won 7-4 after scoring a run in each of the final three innings.
Mandeville led 5-0 in the fifth inning before Destrehan plated a pair of runs to cut into the lead. The Ladycats added a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh in an attempt to rally, but the Skippers closed out the win.
Rome went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Vicknair, Franck, Kenna Ocmond, Brianna Anderson and T’Auna Fenroy each added a hit for Destrehan, including an Ocmond double.