RUSTON – After two weeks at home, Northwestern State begins an eight-game road swing on Tuesday with its second midweek contest of the season at Louisiana Tech, which wraps up a 10-game homestand.
The Lady Demons (12-9) and the Lady Techsters (15-8) play the first of two meetings this season beginning at 6 p.m. at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field. Northwestern swept the neighborhood series last spring, 3-2 in Ruston Feb. 16 and 6-2 in Natchitoches on April 29.
Both teams are coming off home series losses in their first conference weekends of the season. NSU dropped two-of-three to Lamar while Tech lost two-of-three to North Texas. The Lady Techsters’ two losses were by a combined three runs, including a 3-1 defeat in 11 innings to open the series.
Tech’s offense is triggered by centerfielder Sierra Sacco, who has 18 steals, nearly half the team’s total. The Techsters are an impressive 38-of-41 on steals. Rightfielder Kylie Neal leads the hitters with a .348 average and 23 RBI.
Laney Roos is the top hitter for NSU with a .348 average. Airline’s Makenzie Chaffin has a pair of home runs to pace the Lady Demons.
Their bats were held in check for most of the weekend against Lamar, save for the nine-hit, five-run performance in the second game win. In its two losses, NSU combined for nine hits and just three runs.
That frustration was amplified by Lamar’s ability to get those coveted two-out hits, seemingly every time it mattered most, on its way to 11 total runs in the two wins coming with two outs in the inning.
“You have to be able to respond to things when something doesn’t go your way and have a little more toughness about you,” NSU head coach Donald Pickett said. “You can’t get deflated like I think we did a little there early in that last game. We’ve got to continue to play the game and play it the right way no matter if something good or bad happens.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players and some upperclassmen who I hope can maybe bring some stuff out of their teammates and have some leaders step up and say the things that need to be said that will help us moving forward.”
Northwestern’s experience and toughness will be put to the test right away as it faces the best pitching staff in Conference USA.
The Lady Techsters have a 1.80 team ERA and have allowed just 40 earned runs in 23 games this season. They have the 37th best team ERA in the country and have thrown six shutouts. Tech has allowed just six earned runs in the past eight games combined.