St. Al honors its past, helps future with win
Published 11:30 am Thursday, April 17, 2014
The same day the St. Aloysius softball team honored its former coach, it overcame a two-run deficit to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs.
The Lady Flashes (9-8, 3-3 Division 7-1A) punctuated a 4-2 win over Cathedral with a ceremony recognizing the team’s seniors as well as former coach Gene Rogillio.
The two-run victory gives St. Al the advantage in a run-differential tiebreaker for the second seed in the division. In its first game against Cathedral (7-10, 3-3) in Natchez, St. Al lost 3-2.
“It was their senior night. They knew that our playoffs and future was riding on this,” St. Al coach Candice Reeder said. “We were not only honoring our seniors tonight, but we were honoring a man who, had it not been for him, we wouldn’t have had a program. I think that had a lot to do with the heart they came out here with.”
Rogillio coached St. Al’s fast-pitch team from its inception in 1999 until 2013. He also coached a number of other sports at the school, including slow-pitch softball.
Rogillio, whose granddaughter Julie Mabry scored a crucial run in the Flashes’ fifth-inning rally, is a regular at the team’s games but said he was surprised to be recognized.
“I appreciate it. What they gave me, you can’t buy,” Rogillio said.
Jordan McDonald tallied two hits and scored in the bottom of the fifth to cap a three-run inning for St. Al, which got another run in the sixth to push into second place in the division.
Reeder said the team’s response to having fallen behind 2-0 is a good sign for the postseason.
“This gives us a lot of momentum,” she said. “I think the girls proved a lot to themselves tonight. They proved that they can do it. That they can come from behind and they can do what it takes to win. They knew exactly what they had to do to win it.”
After the win, the St. Al seniors were honored individually and gave Rogillio a plaque with a collage of pictures from his coaching days.
Reeder, who played at St. Al from 1999 to 2004, said being able to recognize her former coach the same night as a crucial victory is rewarding.
“He means everything to this program,” she said. “I am honored to be able to be the head coach that was able to give back to my head coach. He is a great man.”
She said the mentality he instilled in the current crop of upperclassmen as well as herself when she played proved especially important Wednesday.
“He told us to always finish what we start. That has always been our motto,” Reeder said. “That’s what they did tonight.”