Cowgirls Clinch Share Of Regular Season Title and Southland Tournaments No. 1 Seed
HAMMOND, La.— McNeese softball clinched its second straight Southland Conference regular season title and earned the Southland Tournament's No. 1 seed after its 4-0 shutout win over Southeastern Louisiana Sunday.
The Cowgirls take the series 2-1 and improve to 35-14 overall and 17-6 in the SLC. McNeese earned the No. 1 seed even though there's a weekend left of conference play. McNeese held a two-game lead over second place Sam Houston State heading into Sunday's finale. With the Cowgirls' win and Sam Houston State falling to 3-2 to Corpus Christi, McNeese has a three-game lead over the Bearkats with three league games left to play. McNeese holds the tiebreaker over SHSU after it won the series earlier in the year.
Despite guiding his team to its second title in as many years, head coach Mike Smith knows there's still a lot of softball to be played.
"It's about the next game, and right now we are focusing on Baylor then we will worry about Lamar," said Smith about this week's upcoming games. "Yes, I'm happy with the position that we are in but we are going to take it one day at a time."
The Cowgirls needed just one inning to score all their runs on Sunday as sophomore pitcher Jamie Allred held the Lions at bay to pick up her record tying 23rd victory of the season and league leading eighth shutout. Allred's win ties the record held by Angela Harrison.
On Sunday, Allred gave up five hits, one walk and struck out eight in the complete game victory. Her last six wins have come via shutouts.
"Jamie has been the bulldog for us all season," said Smith. "She had a great offseason and fall and has worked hard to get where she is. She is just a workhorse and a model of a player that works hard."
Emily Vincent's single and a Southeastern La. error allowed the Cowgirls to score all four runs in the third inning.
Three straight singles by Dakota Matiko, Alanna DiVittorio and Marisa Taunton loaded the bases in the frame. Matiko was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice by Lauren Langner and Vincent followed with a 2-run single up the middle to give McNeese a 2-0 lead. The lead went to 4-0 after two runs scored on a Lions' error.
McNeese picked up eight hits in the game, led by DiVittorio and Vincent with two hits each.
Next up for the Cowgirls will be a Wednesday visit to Baylor for a single game before hosting Lamar on the weekend in the Cowgirls' regular season series finale.
by Pam LaFosse
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