Todd Schulz called his first season as head coach of Hahnville a great experience with a special group of players.
The Lady Tigers began the year with a record of 3-5, but that slow start was in part driven by several external factors – a COVID outbreak, along with other injuries and other illnesses, left the team in a position of shuffling the deck game in and game out against a convoy of strong softball programs.
But when things clicked, Hahnville didn’t look back. The Tigers won eight straight games before ultimately being eliminated by No. 2 seeded St. Amant in the state quarterfinals, and had won 12 times in 13 games. Hahnville’s final 19 games saw the veteran team go 15-4, including the quarterfinal loss.
“Once we kind of got going, it just kind of clicked and it was lights out,” said Schulz. “We got our lineup the way we wanted and some people stepped up when they needed to get the job done. Overall, I thought it was a very successful season.”
Schulz was head coach of his alma mater DeRidder prior to arriving at Hahnville as an assistant in 2020 under then head coach Jerry Nugent. In 2018, he led DeRidder to the Class 4A championship.
A major goal for him was to one day become head coach of a 5A program, and with Nugent’s retirement from coaching after the 2021 season, Schulz got his opportunity, navigating his team through some tough early waters to make a strong playoff run.
“This is my first year as a 5A coach and I’ve always told everybody that was my goal,” he said. “I got here and I knew was gonna be a tough road. Of course, I’m at a great school with a lot of tradition. Nothing really changed from that standpoint … my expectations were really high for our players. And they met them … they succeeded those expectations.”
He said part of the Tigers turnaround was the tremendous depth to their lineup. With a strong pitching staff led by starter Laney Waguespack, the Tigers showed their offense had the punch to compete with anyone.
“We didn’t have that one monster power hitter, but I felt like 1 through 9 anything can happen,” Schulz said. “Avery in the eight hole was dangerous. Laney in that four-hole really turned it on in the middle of the season. Adeline (Bertrand) in the three-hole hitting it hard, seeing the ball really well. And Brazzi Jacob, playing as well as she did as a freshman, she really impressed me. I’m looking forward to the next three years of her.
“We losing eight seniors, but I think we have a real good young crew coming up.”
Hahnville’s season came to an end at St. Amant, as the Lady Tigers fell 11-2.
The Tigers (23-12) were ultimately done in by a seven-run fourth inning that saw the host Gators extend their lead to 9-0.
“It was a tough loss,” said Schulz. “In that fourth inning, we had a call not go our way and things kind of opened up for them. They scored (seven) runs. I mean, we didn’t stop fighting. Avery Edgar comes up on the 6th and hits a two-run monster bomb … I can’t fault my kids at all. They busted their tails and fought.”
Aralee Beene and Kami Gautreau led St. Amant (29-2) offensively, combining to drive in five runs while scoring four, each with a home run. Addison Jackson earned the win on the mound with a complete game two-run effort, including nine strikeouts and four hits allowed.
A three-run Gautreau home run put the exclamation point on the seven-run inning.
Avery Edgar led Hahnville offensively, going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Schulz said he knew the 10-seeded Tigers were in for a tough battle against the No. 2 seed Gators, who won their 27th game in a row with the victory.
“We told the girls we don’t have much to lose since we’re the ones going in there trying to pull the upset,” Schulz said. “There was more pressure on them than on us. And our girls went in there with a ton of energy … that was an electric atmosphere. There was a big crowd there … I felt like the score doesn’t really indicate how the game was.”