Former Ville Platte High standout and current ULL basketball player, Ty’Reona Doucet (35), waits patiently for a teammate to come open during a regular season game with the ULM Lady Warhawks. Doucet and the ULL basketball team had their season cut short because of the Coronavirus epidemic. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)
We all know how heartbreaking it has been for the senior high school athletes across the parish, as their season was mowed down by the pandemic of the Coronavirus.
That heartbreak, however, knows no boundaries. Just as those high school athletes have had their seasons cut way too short, the same can be said for several former Evangeline Parish athletes now playing on the collegiate level.
What the LHSAA and all college athletes have in common is that spring sports were cut off in mid-stream. What is different between the two entities is that the LHSAA was able to complete their basketball seasons; colleges were not.
That fact affected one of the most decorated parish hard court players, former Ville Platte High and current ULL athlete Ty’Reona Doucet.
The junior forward and her team were on the back end of their schedule, competing in the conference tournament, when the 2019-20 campaign came to an abrupt end.
“It was very unfortunate that we had to end the season the way we did,” stated Doucet. “We had just won our first two games in conference and were playing well. I thought we had a good chance of winning it all and making it to the NCAA’s. But, I totally understood why things happened the way it did.”
In all actuality, Doucet was on her way to having one of the best seasons she has had since first beginning at ULL. The 6’1” post player was averaging 13.2 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game, including 10 double-doubles, all while trying to fend off injuries throughout the season.
“I struggled with injuries during the season, but I was fighting through them as much as possible,” said Doucet. “This year I was trying to be more of a scorer and a vocal leader. I felt myself becoming more mature.”
The Sunbelt Tournament that Doucet and her teammates were participating when the season received the axe just so happened to be held in New Orleans right when things were starting to get dicey in the Crescent City. Because of that, Doucet really understands why the NCAA made the decision it did regarding the rest of the season.
“I was worried while we were there,” commented Doucet. “I told my teammates I wasn’t going to eat in a restaurant or go in any public place because I was pretty worried. If I was thinking this way, I totally got what the NCAA did and why they did it.”
LSU-E softball player Jacie McFarlain was just getting settled in her new settings as a freshman third baseman for the Lady Bengals when the NJCAA followed suit with the rest of the collegiate world and ended the year.
McFarlain, the former Pine Prairie standout, found herself hitting .349 in 63 plate appearances with 19 RBI and eight extra base hits. McFarlain also sported a .556 slugging percentage and a .375 on base percentage.
“At first when they told us that we were suspended just to March 30, I was kind of happy to get a break,” said McFarlain. “But then when they came back and told us that they were cancelling the rest of the season, I got super upset. I just kept thinking to myself that I may not see some of these girls again. But, God always has a plan and we don’t always know what that plan is.”
Despite not being on the field of play anymore, McFarlain and the rest of her teammates are still getting work in, albeit in a different way.
“The coaches keep in touch and send us workouts to do,” stated McFarlain. “It is just disappointing to know that all of the work that we put in during the fall and the spring kind of got wasted. I mean, I know what was done was important in helping save lives, but it still hurts.”
Teammate Karli Fontenot agreed with the sentiments of McFarlain.
“It is very disappointing in terms of the work that we all put in,” commented Fontenot. “We were just starting to get on a roll when the season was stopped. I thought the team, along with myself, were finding their groove. The decision that was made was very important, and I think we all know why it was made.”
The Sacred Heart graduate, Fontenot, had been having one heck of a season when the word came down that the collegiate world would no longer be able to finish the year.
Fontenot, the freshman DH/second baseman, was leading the team in hitting with a .423 average in 71 at bats. Fontenot had drove in 16 runs, held a .648 slugging percentage and clipped nine extra base hits, including three home runs before the season closed down.
Sixty miles north of the LSU-E campus, Jordan Ardoin was also enjoying his first season on the collegiate level, mainly as a second baseman with the LSUA Generals. In 40 games, Ardoin had managed to secure a batting average of .300 with a double and nine RBI.
Ardoin, the former Pine Prairie baseball player, spoke about his heartbreak for the senior players on the Generals’ roster.
“When we found out that the season was cancelled, it was very devastating for the seniors,” stated Ardoin. “Those guys had put in a ton of sweat and tears for the last four years and then had to all of a sudden cut their final year short. I know they understood the situation, but it was still tough for them.”
Unlike everyone else, seniors at LSUA were unable to get the benefit of adding the extra year of eligibility to their resume that was graced by the NCAA. The reason, there is no graduate school at LSUA.
One of those athletes that will definitely be taking advantage of their extra year of eligibility is former Pine Prairie native and current Ole Miss golfer Julia Johnson.
The current junior phenom has had an excellent career with the Lady Rebels and this year started off to be one of her and her team’s best.
“We had all the momentum in the world when the season got shut down,” said Johnson. “We had won four of the six tournaments we had played in and I felt we were on the way to the NCAA’s. It was definitely heartbreaking for all of us to have to cut the season off, but we all knew that it was the right thing to do. We will definitely remember this for the rest of our lives.”
As an individual performer, Johnson was leading the team in overall average and had one first place finish and a second place finish already in the books. The All-SEC golfer also posted a score of 61 in her final round of the Battle at the Beach Tournament in San Jose Del Carbo, Mexico.
That score not only broke the course record but also tied the NCAA record for lowest score in an individual round.
Now that she knows that she will get that extra year at Ole Miss, Johnson intends to make the most of the situation.
“My plan is to stay on for my fifth year,” stated Johnson. “In May I will have my degree, so I plan on taking the rest of the time to work on getting two master’s degrees. After that, my plan is to turn pro and see where it takes me.”