McNeese's softball senior day was special in many ways and what made it even more special was the fact that two of the five seniors came through in Friday's doubleheader win (2-1, 8 inn.) and a 3-1 game two victory to sweep the series and the earned no. 1 seed in the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament's that is slated for May 10-12 in Conway, Arkansas that will be hosted by Central Arkansas.
"Words will never be able to put a mark on what they have done for our program," said head coach James Landreneau. "Their work, performance and character- there are some many things other than softball they do for our community and our program. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend the years with them and be part of what they do."
McNeese (36-16, 21-3 SLC) got a one out RBI single by senior Taylor Schmidt in the bottom of the eighth that scored Erika Piancastelli in the opening game for the 2-1 extra inning win. Piancastelli drew a lead off walk to open the inning then stole second before rounding third on the hit by Schmidt.
"Today was a day to find a way to get the job done," said head coach James Landreneau. "I thought our pitching staff did an excellent job minimizing the damage. We left a ton of runners on but the kids stayed focused and we competed hard and we played good defense."
After two scoreless innings, the Cowgirls took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Piancastelli that scored Tori Yanitor, another Cowgirl senior. Yanitor got things started with a lead off walk.
Senior Baylee Corbello had a shutout going until SFA tied the game at one all in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Autumn Holloway. Corbello was replaced by Alexsandra Flores after giving up a single to Madison Selman. Corbello gave up five hits, struck out four, walked two in 5 1/3 innings.
"I thought Corbello threw a really good game. She was able to command the zone and she was able to change speeds really good on them. Flores came in and did a really good job as well."
The Cowgirls weren't able to score a run in the sixth or seventh innings, sending the game into extra innings.
After Flores retired the Ladyjacks in order in the top of the eighth, the Cowgirls took advantage of a Piancastelli walk and Schmidt's game winning hit.
Sophomore Justyce McClain led the Cowgirls at the plate with a 3 for 4 plate appearance.
Senior hurler Rachel Smith threw a gem in her final home game to pick up the 3-1 win in the series finale to improve to 14-7 on the season. Smith ended her complete game with five strikeouts, two walks and gave up three hits.
"Rachel settled in after she walked the first two batters and then dominated the game after that. It's good to see that kind of performance from her and its always good to see our team play good defense behind her," Landreneau said.
With the Cowgirls taking an early 1-0 lead in the opening frame on an Alexandria Saldivar single that scored Piancastelli then adding another run in the fourth on a bases loaded walk by Megan Holmes to score Yanitor for a 2-0 lead, Smith was doing her thing in the circle and had a no-hitter going until the sixth inning when she gave up a lead off solo homerun to Brittany Lewis. McNeese got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Piancastelli drew her fifth walk of the day to send Hailey Drew across the plate for a 3-1 lead. The walk to Piancastelli tied the McNeese and Southland Conference career records, giving her 158 career walks. Both records are held by Alanna DiVittorio.
"It feels great, everything is for our team. We play for each other and we love each other," said Smith. "Just to go out there and compete for my team is all I want to do.
SFA (17-30, 9-12 SLC) gave up 12 walks to McNeese between starter Callee Guffey and reliever MaKayla Sikes. Guffey took the loss falling to 9-11 on the season.
Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.