The Brusly High softball team has a simple goal for the 2013 season.
The Lady Panthers want to return to Sulphur this season for the Fast Pitch 56 state tournament – and they want to win one more tournament game than they did last year.
BHS fell short in extra innings to eventual state champion Buckeye in the 3A semifinals last season, when the Lady Panthers finished 29-5 as 7-3A champions.
Even with a nearly full slate of returnees, the road to Sulphur won’t be a cake walk.
“Our schedule is very tough this season,” said Beau Bouvier, who begins his sixth year as BHS head coach. “Just being able to play up to the competition every day will be a challenge for us.”
Bouvier has led three Lady Panther teams to Sulphur during his tenure.
The Lady Panthers were set to open the season Wednesday against 5A semifinalist St. Amant. BHS hosts a tournament that includes powerhouses such as Barbe, Airline, Teurlings Catholic, Riverside and John Curtis.
“The girls are working hard,” Bouvier said. “They have a very challenging schedule … this year will be very tough on them.”
Despite the tough competition, the Lady Panthers have the ability to make another run in Sulphur, Bouvier said.
“They know what it takes to be where they want to be,” he said. “We’ve been there two years in a row – now it’s a matter of teaching the young ones how to get it done.”
Junior Carli Jo LeBlanc, a 2012 All-District and All-State entry, leads the Lady Panther pitching staff. Kristen Gaudet, who made a strong showing last season, returns to the mound for her sophomore year.
Freshmen Cameryn Comeaux and Hannah Gaudet (younger sister of Kristen Gaudet) may also see time at the mound, Bouvier said.
Other top returnees include center fielder/shortstop Carli Comeaux, third baseman Lanisha Taylor, outfielder Akiya Thymes and second baseman Claire Daigle.
The Lady Panthers will be without the services of Shelby Willis, a 2011 All-District MVP, who was sidelined this season with a torn ACL.