After three straight bi-district playoff defeats, Port Neches-Groves softball will rely on senior leadership and a junior pitcher to break the glass on Round One elimination come late April.
Entering her sixth year as PNG softball coach, Jessica Lemoine sees the pieces in place for the potential of a successful playoff push. District 21-5A is loaded with heavyweight teams such as Nederland and Barbers Hill, who join the district after realignment.
“Realignment was not kind to us this year,” said Lemoine, a native of Bridge City.
“Barbers Hill is a tough team that always have a pile of athletes to choose from and a ton of pitching. Nederland brings back most of their lineup along with their pitcher, so they will be strong as well.”
Dayton, who defeated PNG in the bi-district round last season, also joins the 21-5A camp this year. Dayton advanced to the regional quarterfinals (3rd round) last year after finishing fourth overall in district play.
With respect to Barbers Hill and Nederland, the Indians will be looking for their second straight district title in 2019 and that starts with pitching. Cameron Niedenthal (Jr. P, 3B) will be the main force in the circle along with support from Maylin Louvier (Jr. UTIL), Hannah Denman (Sr. 1B), Kasidee Sartin (Jr. C) and Bayja Newby (Sr. 2B).
“Cameron brings a different arsenal of pitches with her,” said Lemoine.
“She’s not your typical ‘power’ pitcher, but she can move the ball in all four directions which offers you more options. She will be looked at as one of our leaders this season.”
What will make 2019 a successful season for Coach Lemoine?
“Theres so much more than goes into coaching than just winning,” said Lemoine.
“Knowing that you’ve kept a group of kids together, you’ve kept them positive and learning along with having a good time and teaching them some real world lessons is the real reward for a coach.”
PNG begins their district season Tuesday, March 5 at 6pm at Cleveland High School.
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