RUSTON — Behind dominant pitching, the Louisiana Tech softball team shut out Northwestern State 5-0 on Tuesday evening at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field.
With the midweek victory, the Lady Techsters are now 16-8 on the season including a 10-4 mark at home as they ended a 10-game homestand. NSU (12-10) launched a string of eight straight road games.
Mary Martinez and Brook Melnychuk (4-2) each threw three innings and Alyssa Martin closed out the shutout. Melnychuk picked up the win with three innings in relief, because the starting pitcher must throw four innings to be credited with a win.
Amanda Gonzales topped Tech with two hits. Kylie Neel reached base three times, going 1-1 with a walk and a hit-by pitch.
The winners pushed in a pair of runs in each of the first two innings, then added the last in the sixth.
“Getting the lead early was big for us. All three pitchers threw really well and our defense played really well. When we can pitch and play defense like that, it takes pressure off of our offense and when we score early runs they can settle in a bit which is what happened,” said Tech coach Josh Taylor.
The Lady Demon bats were stymied all night long by a Tech pitching staff that ranks as the best in Conference USA. Bailie Ragsdale accounted for NSU’s only two hits through the first six innings of the game, leadoff infield singles in both the first and third innings.
Her base hit in the third was the last hit and baserunner for the Demons until a two-out single by Kat Marshall in the sixth inning. The Tech pitching combination of Martinez and Melnychuk retired 11 straight NSU batters between base hits.
NORTHWESTERN STATE 6, ULM 2: Jacob Farrell got the Northwestern State baseball team off and running Tuesday night. The Demon bullpen then took care of things down the stretch, polishing off a 6-2 victory against visiting ULM in Natchitoches at Brown-Stroud Field to cap a season sweep of the Warhawks (7-11).
“Throwing strikes, staying ahead in counts, staying out of hitters’ counts – we did a good job of that tonight,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Chase (Prestwich) was great. He wasn’t as sharp as he has been, but he battled. Dawson (Flowers) was really good. We needed that from him after a couple of tough ones. (Andrew) Cossio, same thing.”
Prestwich (3-0) gave the Demons another strong mid-week start, scattering six hits in five innings but limiting the damage to a single run in the fourth inning.
By then, Northwestern State (10-6) had built a 5-0 lead thanks in part to Farrell’s first career leadoff home run and a three-run blast from Gabe Colaianni that punctuated a four-run third inning.
NSU is home this weekend for three games against UALR.
LOUISIANA TECH 5, AIR FORCE 0: In the first start of his collegiate career, senior righty Landon Tomkins pitched three shutout innings and three relievers combined for six scoreless innings and only one hit surrendered – just three as a staff – in Game One of a two-game set against Air Force before 2,166 on a chilly Tuesday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
After walking the only five batters he faced in Tech’s loss at Arkansas Sunday, Tomkins (3-0) left two on in the second and three in the third, but got two of his six strikeouts to end both innings after a 1-2-3 first.
He gave up two of the Falcons three hits as the bullpen was dynamic. Alec Sparks pitched two innings, Ryan Harland pitched three innings of one-hit ball, and Byrd High product Jonathan Fincher, the senior lefty who took the loss in Arkansas as the Friday starter, added the exclamation point by striking out the side on 10 pitches.
Tech (9-7) and Air Force (5-12) are scheduled to play at 3 today.