Coach says team improved from ‘18 playoff squad
Destrehan began the season 0-5 on the softball diamond, but Wildcats’ coach Kenny Montz didn’t get discouraged, and his team’s past two victories have only fortified his belief in his team.
“We’re a better team than we were last year,” said Montz, who guided DHS to the 2018 postseason as the No. 13 seed in 5A. “The record doesn’t show it, but we’ve taken a step.”
He has a sound argument. While the winless start wasn’t the ideal beginning he or his players would have envisioned, Destrehan’s first five opponents went a combined 18-2 to begin the year.
The Wildcats (2-6) have also shown they can compete with some of the state’s elite programs in that stretch. A scoreless tie for six innings led to a tight win by St. Amant after it plated two runners in the seventh for a 2-1 victory at DHS. That followed a 4-3 loss to Central decided on the last at-bat of that game. Visiting Walker extended a 2-1 lead in the seventh for a 4-1 victory.
Destrehan’s other losses came 5-2 against Parkview Baptist and 5-1 against East Ascension.
“We’ve played a very tough schedule, but we’ve been very competitive in those games,” Montz said. “We’re having trouble putting together complete games against some really good teams right now. The hope is that by elevating our schedule a little bit, it prepares us better for later in the season and the playoffs.”
The Wildcats seem to be putting those lessons to practice, if last week’s wins over Vandebilt Catholic and Belle Chasse are any indication. Destrehan came out hot against Vandebilt and posted five runs in the first inning en route to a 10-3 win, while DHS plated runs in all but one inning in a 10-run rule win over Belle Chasse.
Destrehan brings back most of its starters from last season, but what was a very young core last season remains so now. Two seniors, first baseman Gia Zeringue and third baseman Lainnie Dugas, return as four year starters and three-year All-District selections. Starting alongside them are five sophomores and two freshmen.
“Those two (seniors) are unquestionably our leaders,” Montz said. “They’ve been invaluable not only through their play, but they know the expectations of the program and they’re guiding our young players.”
One of those sophomores, Tyler Oubre, broke out in a freshman season that included several gems.
“She’s throwing well,” Montz said. “She’s pitched well enough to win some of these games, but we haven’t gotten that big hit or had the chance to do some damage. We expect a very good season from her.”
Montz said he believes pitching and defense have been the team’s strengths so far. The hitting has been slow to start, but he believes that will come as the season continues to unfold.
“Our bats have a ways to go, and that’s the case for a lot of teams at this point,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to have better at-bats in big game situations.”
Zeringue had a big day in the Belle Chasse win, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored. T’Auna Fenroy went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Alyssa Vicknair, Moriah Ocmond and Gabby Sutton each earned two hits and scored a combined five runs between them. Vicknair’s day included two doubles.
Against Vandebilt, every Destrehan starter earned at least one hit, with Ocmond going 2-for0-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored, Zeringue going 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, and Fenroy and Dugas each going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Today (March 7), the Hahnville/Destrehan rivalry is renewed at DHS, but with a bit of a twist. This game will be a non-district contest, with the District 7-5A showdown set later on. 7-5A coaches elected to play one round of district play this season, opposed to the traditional two.
But Montz said the two St. Charles Parish rivals wanted to make sure to keep two head-to-head matchups on the schedule.
“Absolutely, we wanted to,” he said. “We both like having the home game. We have good crowds. The kids expect to play them, the community expects to play them … it’s always a big game for everyone.”