Abp. Hannan trio sweeps to honors
COACH OF THE YEAR
Becky Lambert, Archbishop Hannan
Kimberly Nilsson, Archbishop Hannan
Maddie Shelton, Archbishop Hannan
For the last three softball seasons, one fact has been a constant: that coach Becky Lambert’s Lady Hawks of Archbishop Hannan High School would be challenging for a Class 1A championship.
Lambert coached her team to “Fast Pitch 56” titles in 2011 and 2012, and with a veteran squad laden with seniors, she once again led Hannan into the championship finals. The Lady Hawks’ effort to three-peat fell one run short as Catholic of Pointe Coupee won an exciting game, 4-3.
Perhaps the effort failed on the field, but there is no denying that Hannan was the flagship team in a very productive season for softball teams from schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
For the second straight season, the Lady Hawks produced the Clarion Herald’s Outstanding Player in senior shortstop Kimberly Nilsson, whose bat rang for 38 runs batted in and a .494 average. She was, by far, the most feared hitter in Class 1A and was also sure-handed at her position.
Hannan posted a 23-9 record, which included a sweep of its light District 7-1A schedule, and the ability of senior pitcher Maddie Shelton was another key factor. Honored as the Outstanding Pitcher on the Clarion Herald’s Elite Softball Team, Shelton posted an earned run average of 1.63 and a 21-9 record, sending 184 batters back to the dugouts as strikeout victims. She pitched shutout victories in six of her last seven games on the mound.
For the third straight year Lambert earned Coach of the Year recognition in a Catholic school system stocked with very capable mentors, including Ty Monica, who led St. Charles Catholic to a 21-7 record and into the Class 3A quarterfinals; and the staff of Mount Carmel Academy, whose team finished as a Class 5A quarterfinalist with a 24-8 record.
St. Charles was led by senior pitcher Chelsea Loupe, who recorded a 20-7 record and augmented her mound work with an impressive .378 batting average. And District 9-5A champion, Mount Carmel, was stocked with outstanding talent, including senior pitcher Caitlyn Betbeze (19-7, 1.87 ERA and 134 strikeouts), catcher Jessica Kingston; shortstop Alaina Guarino and outfielder Regina Baxter, a slugging .375 hitter who slammed seven home runs.
The season also featured a duel between Ursuline Academy and Cabrini for top gun in District 10-4A.
Although Ursuline had the better overall record of 19-11, it was 16-13 Cabrini that shared the district title when the two each won nine games and split their two-game series. The district coaches awarded Crescents’ head lady, Shannon Austin, and Ursuline’s Stephen Dickey the honor as co-coaches of the year.
Cabrini’s Karli Perque, Jade Luke and Alexis Groce earned spots on the elite team, joining Ursuline’s Kaitlyn Benoit and Rachel Rabalais.
But perhaps the most heartwarming success story came from the east side of the city where St. Mary’s Academy had its finest season following its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The Cougars of coach Domonique Delone won 14 of 17 games, including a 10-0 sweep of their District 10-3A opponents. During that run, St. Mary’s scored a remarkable 284 runs, averaging 19 per game, and beat district runner-up, De La Salle (13-8, 10-2), by the monster scores of 19-5 and 16-6. And De La Salle was no slouch. The Lady Cavaliers averaged 16.3 runs themselves.
St. Mary’s leader was junior catcher, Tiffany Doss, a .500 batter who was named the 10-3A MVP. Delone earned her district’s coach of the year honor.
Also lauded as a district coach of the year was Pope John Paul II athletic director and multi-sport coach, Mark Jeanmard, who led the Lady Jaguars to a 15-6 record and the District 8-2A title.
The 2013 Elite Softball Team
Position Name School
Pitcher Maddie Shelton Abp. Hannan
Pitcher Caitlyn Betbeze Mount Carmel
Pitcher Chelsea Loupe St. Charles
Catcher Jessica Kingston Mount Carmel
Catcher Tiffany Doss St. Mary’s
Infielder Jade Luke Cabrini
Infielder Alaina Guarino Mount Carmel
Infielder Kimberly Nilsson Abp. Hannan
Infielder Sydney Finch Abp. Hannan
Infielder Rachel Rabalais Ursuline
Outfielder Regina Baxter Mount Carmel
Outfielder Jenna Parker Academy of
Outfielder Bailey Tuminello Archbishop
Des. Hitter Kaitlyn Battistella Pope John Paul II
Utility Alexis Cressonie Academy of
Utility Samantha Bernard Abp. Chapelle
Utility Lindsey Savoie Dominican
Utility Hollie Huhn St. Scholastica
Utility Brittany Sanchez De La Salle
Utility Kaitlyn Benoit Ursuline
Utility Alexis Groce Cabrini
Outstanding Pitcher – Maddie Shelton, Archbishop Hannan
Outstanding Player – Kimberly Nilsson, Archbishop Hannan
Coach of the Year – Becky Lambert, Archbishop Hannan