HAMMOND – Northwestern State owned four different one-run leads Wednesday, but regular-season champion McNeese wiped out each one, executing three straight bunt singles in the bottom of the eighth before a walk-off liner to right field delivered a 6-5 Southland Conference Softball Tournament thriller to the Cowgirls.
In a rivalry battle with five lead changes, Northwestern lashed 13 hits but left 11 on base, seven in scoring position. The Lady Demons (29-21) play an 11 a.m. elimination round contest today.
Airline High product Makenzie Chaffin had the hero’s hat snatched away in the seventh inning. She drilled a solo homer over the centerfield wall for a 4-3 NSU lead in the top half, but McNeese (36-19) converted a walk, a Texas League single square on the right field line, and got a two-out pinch-hit single from Toni Perrin to knot it at 4-all.
In the top of the eighth with one out and the bags full of Lady Demons, Bailie Ragsdale lifted one just over the head of the shortstop to bring in Kat Marshall, who started the inning with one of her three hits in the game. Again, Northwestern failed to fully cash in, leaving the bases jammed.
McNeese was jumpstarted by an NSU throwing error on a routine grounder to second base leading off the bottom of the eighth and roared back playing small ball. Three consecutive well-executed bunt singles produced the tying run, and Crislyne Moreno cracked a game-winning, one-out liner into the right field corner.
“We scored five runs today. We scored five in the winner’s bracket of the conference tournament – we’ve got to win that game,” said veteran Lady Demons’ coach Donald Pickett. “We had productive at bats, got bunts down, moved runners into scoring position. If we can get that type of offense the rest of the week, we’re going to be a tough out.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE 7, LSU 4 (9 innings): The No. 18 Tigers (34-21 were eliminated from the Southeastern Conference Tournament by the unranked Bulldogs (33-23). LSU got only six hits, but one was a two-run homer by Morgan Smith and another was a game-extending two-RBI single in the seventh by Ciara Briggs.
State pushed across three runs in the top of the ninth and retired the Tigers to advance in the bracket.
LSU anticipates receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large invitation Sunday evening in the 6 p.m. Selection Show special on ESPN2.
JACKSON STATE 10, GRAMBLING 3: The season ended for the Lady Tigers, who were besieged by an eight-run second inning outburst by Jackson State in an elimination game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Softball Championship at the Gulfport Crossplex.
Anaiyah Fultz had a two-run single for Grambling State (24-24) while Lauren Stewart’s bases-loaded triple broke open the contest for Jackson State (23-26).
Photo by ARIEF HARLAN, Southland Conference
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