HAMMOND — The No. 1 seed McNeese State offense proved to be a little more than No. 5 seed Houston Baptist could handle in the Cowgirls’ 5-0 shutout win at the 2014 Southland Conference Softball Tournament at North Oak Park.
McNeese State put pressure on Houston Baptist in the second inning with senior shortstop Katie Roux single up the middle followed by senior Kim Kennedy single to the left center that advanced Roux to second. Alanna DiVittorio singled to right field to score Roux and give the Cowgirls an early 1-0 lead.
The Cowgirls added to their lead heading into the bottom of the fifth with freshman Marisa Taunton reaching base on an error by HBU first baseman Melissa Herman. Taunton would then steal second, her ninth of the year, and the Huskies walked junior Lauren Langner to put McNeese in scoring position.
First-team all-conference designated player Emily Vincent singled to left field to bring Taunton home and advance Langner to third, who scored on the throw. McNeese State head coach Mike Smith decision to let catcher Stacey Conley pinch-hit for second baseman Taylor Goree proved to successful as Conley singled to left field to record just her seventh RBI of the season.
The Cowgirls concluded the scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning with a RBI single from Taunton to plate DiVittorio.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 1, SAM HOUSTON STATE 0: Central Arkansas picked up a victory over Sam Houston State in the Southland Conference softball tournament at North Oak Park.
Central Arkansas scored the only run in the fifth inning when sophomore Amy Gunnells came home on a single through the right side by sophomore Sam Forrest. Gunnells reached base with a single, her 25th hit of the season, to the shortstop on Forrest 43rd RBI on the year.
Kylee Studioso picked up the win for UCA to improve to 17-11 on the year.
HOUSTON BAPTIST 8, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 7: Houston Baptist opened the 2014 Southland Conference Softball tournament with an 8-7 win against No. 4 seed Stephen F. Austin at North Oak Park on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana.
Stephen F. Austin struck early scoring two runs apiece in the first two innings to take a 4-0 lead causing Houston Baptist coach Mary-Ellen to make a pitching change. HBU freshman Emily Mueller was pulled during the first inning after two illegal pitches and replaced by senior Kendall Stiefel who would pitch the remainder of the game.
The Huskies were able to capitalize off two errors by SFA in the third inning and scored three runs behind the play of all-conference players Lauren Schwirtlich and Alyssa Burnett. Schwirtlich was able to a score and Burnett singled up the middle to drive third baseman Shay Orsak home.
The Ladyjacks mounted a comeback late in the bottom of the seventh after senior Elizabeth Arana opened the inning with a walk and then advanced to third with a double to right-field by sophomore Lindsay Campbell.
Arana would then score on a sacrifice fly by freshman Taylor LeFlore to close the lead to two (8-6). SFA’s Campbell scored on a fielder’s choice for the Ladyjacks final run to make the score 8-7.
Senior Kendall Stiefel earned the win in the circle for Houston Baptist with a complete game effort.
LSU EUNICE 10, MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST 2: LSU Eunice opened play in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament with a 10-2 victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Thursday, advancing the Lady Bengals to play in a second-round contest at approximately 5 p.m. against the other first round winning team.
The Lady Bengals (56-2) collected 12 hits, with Carey Alexis finishing with three hits — all RBI singles — to lead the offense. In the circle, Destin Vicknair earned her 25th win of the season, tossing six innings and allowing five hits, two runs and two walks while striking out four Mississippi Gulf Coast (35-19) batters.
In addition to Alexis, LSU Eunice also received two hits each from Brooklynn Clark, Dani Cruickshank and Vicknair.