With seven returning starters from a 2016 season that saw Destrehan go 19-9 and defeat rival Hahnville for the first time in a decade, the Wildcats hope to make even greater strides this season.
While Destrehan loses senior pitcher Krista Robles from last season’s team, coach Kenny Montz believes her successor, Carla Beck, is up to the task. And with an offensive lineup that broke through in the second half of last season — Destrehan scored six or more runs 10 times in their last 15 games — Montz is optimistic his team can make a splash.
“Our expectations are always gonna be high,” Montz said. “We’re looking to compete for district championships, get to the playoffs and compete to get to state tournament. We have seven starters back, but in a way, it’s a little bit different because we have a lot of girls switching positions this year.”
Those position changes begin with Beck, who was the team’s regular first baseman last season but now shifts to the mound. Sarah Boquet moves from third base to catcher. Julie Scheuermann moves from catcher to shortstop, while Lainnie Dugas slides from second base to third.
“There’s going to be a learning curve,” Montz said. “Our outfield is intact, but pretty much everyone else is moving to a different position.”
While Robles has been the team’s top starter over the past few seasons, Beck saw considerable action as the team’s No. 2 in her sophomore and junior years. Her 2016 campaign was highlighted by a one-hitter she tossed in a shutout victory over East St. John.
“We have the utmost confidence in Carla,” Montz said. “She’s bided her time, worked hard to get to this moment and now it’s her turn. She’s embraced it. Carla worked very hard all offseason and she’s become a leader on this team. She’s excited about it, ready to accept the challenge and we’re excited to see what she’s gonna do.”
Scheuermann has not let the move to shortstop distract from her bat, Montz said, noting she has looked to be swinging the bat “exceptionally well” in team scrimmages. Meanwhile, four freshman who played beyond their years in 2016 — Lainnie Dugas (.379, 23 RBIs, 21 runs scored), Gia Zeringue (.471, 17 RBIs, 30 runs scored), Boquet (,398, 26 RBIs and 26 runs scored( and Breanna Dominguez (.346, 12 RBIs and 18 runs scored) — will be among key components to making this season a successful one.
“Our girls that swung the bats so well last year, a big key is having them not regress, and even improve,” Montz said. “We’re very hopeful we’re going to be a good offensive team. On paper, it looks really good, but we still have to go out and prove it.”
The Wildcats opened their season with a 15-0 win at home over East Ascension. Destrehan will play its district opener March 1 against Terrebonne, followed by tournament action against Dominican, Chapelle and Beau Chene.
“We’ve got some tough tests early in the year that will hopefully be a good indicator of where we are,” Montz said.