Lady Demons open SLC tourney with win; Grambling falls, ULM ousted

HOMER HAPPY: Kat Marshall (middle right, with necklace) and starting pitcher Sage Hoover (middle left) celebrate Marshall’s three-run home run for Northwestern State in the first game of the Southland Conference Tournament.

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HAMMOND – An early blast and plenty of mental toughness helped Northwestern State pick up its fourth straight opening-round win in the Southland Conference Softball Tournament, topping UIW 4-3 Tuesday afternoon.

Much like they did in the series three week prior in Natchitoches, the Lady Demons (29-20) took advantage of free passes issued by UIW.

The Lady Demons drew five walks, with four of them either scoring in the inning or creating a run in the game.

The first two batters of the second inning reached via the free pass for NSU and a four-pitch walk to Makenzie Chaffin and a full-count miss to Alexis Perry. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Kat Marshall wasted no time plating them, and herself, turning on the first pitch she saw and depositing it over the wall in left.

The Lady Demons got the leadoff batter on in each of the next three innings but were unable to cash in on the opportunities save for one run in the fifth, a bases-loaded walk to Perry. NSU had the bases loaded with no outs in the inning but just the walk to Perry moved the scoreboard – just enough, as it turned out.

UIW got a couple of bunt singles to put two runners on in the sixth, then a home run made it a 4-3 game. The Cardinals got a pair of hitters on base in the seventh, but were unable to extend the contest against NSU ace Sage Hoover.

The win moved NSU against top seed McNeese in a contest set for an 11 a.m. start on ESPN+ this morning. McNeese took the regular-season series 2-1 in Natchitoches.

ALABAMA STATE 10, GRAMBLING 2: The Lady Tigers jumped out to a two-run lead through the middle of the third inning, but the Lady Hornets erupted for a five-inning run-rule win in the opening round of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Softball Championship at the Gulfport Crossplex.

Grambling State (24-23), the third seed from the West Division, fell into the elimination bracket and will meet Jackson State, the fourth seed from the East Division, at 9 a.m. today.

COASTAL CAROLINA 5, ULM 0: An opening-round loss ended ULM’s season in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, but there were encouraging footnotes for the Warhawks. Their 27-27 final record gave a .500 (or better) mark for only the third time in 15 SBC seasons, and their 10 league wins is the program’s best in the Sun Belt, with most of the roster due back for 2023.

Photo by ARIEF HARLAN, Southland Conference


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