Although the team was disappointed by a first round playoff loss against Haughton, three local girls from the St. Joseph’s Academy Redstickers were awarded with District 5-5A second-team honors.
Senior first baseman Abby Beary, junior pitcher Abby Gilbert, and designated hitter Emily Anzaldua, all of West Baton Rouge Parish, were named district second-team entries for the second year in a row.
Beary the senior first baseman – who, in her freshman year, was named Newcomer of the Year – has lettered four years at St. Joe’s in addition to her two second-team selections.
She had a .425 batting average, 2 home runs and 30 RBIs.
The senior was awarded for her hard work this season by being named Most Valuable Player of the SJA team, as well as being given the Best Defensive Player Award, the Captain’s Award, and the Most Inspired Award.
St. Joseph’s Assistant Coach B.J. Romano said he credits Beary’s six-foot frame and long arms with helping out a young infield by making several outstanding grabs of errant balls.
He added, “Her great numbers at the plate and golden glove at first base are what warranted her to rack up the awards. Her fierce competitive nature will be missed and hopefully passed down to some of the younger players who looked up to her.”
Beary received the Distinguished Freshman Scholarship from University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she will major in marketing.
Gilbert, a junior pitcher, has lettered for the past three years and was chosen as second-team all-district in both her sophomore and junior years.
This season, she had a .364 batting average in district play, while picking up 17 wins pitching with an ERA of 3.75 – one of the top ERA’s in the area. She pitched an astounding 146 innings, striking out 106 batters with what Romano called a “very good 3-to-1 strikeout ratio.”
Romano also said that these numbers came up against some of the top teams in the state, including two wins versus the 5A state champion Ouachita High School, where she was one win away from a no-hitter, and a 2-0 shut out versus the 4A state champions St. Thomas Moore Cougars. She also notched a win against East Ascension High School, who finished in the top four in 5A.
Gilbert’s 17 wins were nine more than the entire St. Joseph’s team had in 2013.
Gilbert, who is playing travel softball for Southern Impact out of Gonzales this summer, maintains a year-round softball schedule, which includes attending physical therapy multiple times a week to help her play through the pain caused by numerous “overuse” injuries she has received throughout her playing career.
“In spite of my nagging injuries, I knew I had to shake it off and persevere through the pain because my coaches and teammates were depending on me,” Gilbert said, adding that she was always taught by her parents to “never give up” and “never quit.” “My love for the game, competitive spirit, and camaraderie with my SJA family made it easier.”
Romano says he expects Gilbert to continue her upward trend next year, as she is looking to be one of the top returning pitchers in the district, as well as in the state.
Junior designated hitter Anzaldua, with her .412 batting average, is also a second year pick to the 5-5A second-team, as well as being a two-year letterman of the varsity team. Anzaldua does double-duty as she also serves as third baseman for the junior varsity squad on which she has played for the past three seasons.
“Emily is our quiet assassin,” said Romano. She doesn’t speak a ton, but when the ball explodes off her bat, it speaks volumes.
Anzaldua transferred from St. John District 1A to SJA District 5A at the end of her 8th grade year, and as a result was not eligible to play varsity her freshman year. She plans to attend College Softball Exposure camps this summer and work on speed and agility training in preparation for her senior season on the Redsticker softball team.
Anzaldua said that from the time she first started playing softball, she has loved the feeling of unity between the players, coaches and parents.
“For my last year of softball, I would like to leave that same sense of unity to my SJA team and family,” she said.
Romano said he expects their “power hitter” Anzaldua to take over the clean-up spot from Beary and step right in at third base for departing senior Callie Boatner.
Although not chosen for district honors, senior Hannah Chustz was also clearly an important part of the St. Joseph’s softball team. Chustz, a senior, lettered in softball two years as a designated runner, second baseman, and outfielder.
“She played her role on the team well and led by example by always hustling and being a team player,” Romano said.
She was awarded with the Most Team Spirit Award all four years of her play with the Redsticker’s program. This year she was awarded the Captain’s Award – given to senior leaders – as well as the LHSAA All-State Academic Award. Chustz will be attending LSU in the fall to study biological sciences.
“Her passion for the game and her team-first attitude will be greatly missed,” said Romano.
St. Joseph’s will return eight players with starting experience, and Romano said that he expects that with the strong leadership that seniors like Chustz and Beary have set forth to go along with 2015 seniors Anzaldua and Gilbert, next year should see a very successful season from the St. Joseph’s Academy Redstickers softball team.