Top-seeded McNeese advanced to the championship game of the 2017 Southland Conference Softball Tournament, defeating No. 2 Nicholls 11-2 in six innings Thursday at Farris Field in Conway, Ark.
The run-rule victory was the Cowgirls’ second-straight win in that fashion after riding past Sam Houston State in their opening game 9-1 Wednesday.
The defending tournament champions picked up right where they left off a game ago, getting the bats going early in the first. McNeese shortstop Hailey Drew sent a two-RBI double to the leftfield fence that scored leadoff hitter Justyce McClain and third baseman Erika Piancastelli. With runners on second and third, centerfielder Tori Yanitor was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Nicholls’ starting pitcher Megan Landry induced back-to-back pop outs to end the inning and head into the bottom frame down just 2-0.
The Colonels cut the lead in half when centerfielder Kasey Frederick doubled to left center to score leadoff hitter Samantha Mracich in the bottom frame of the first.
In the top of the second, Piancastelli ripped a two-run bomb over the leftfield fence for her 12th home run of the season. The three-time Southland Player of the Year finished the day 1-for-2 with three runs, three RBIs and two walks.
The score stayed at 4-1 until the bottom of the fourth inning when Nicholls added a run by Elexus Trenkle, who was pinch running for Veronica Villafranco after the catcher had doubled to left-center field to get on base.
Behind five hits and four Colonels’ errors in the top of the sixth, the Cowgirls added seven insurance runs to extend the lead to 11-2. The nine-run lead forced the Colonels to need two runs to continue play into the seventh inning. Cowgirls’ relief pitcher Alexandra Flores entered the game and gave up back-to-back singles, but her defense made the double play before making the 5-3 sequence to end the game.
McNeese advances to the championship game with the win. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday. Nicholls will await winner of Game 8 between Central Arkansas and Northwestern State. The game is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday. The Bears and Lady Demons will play Friday at 11 a.m. due to inclement weather moving the game from Thursday.
Games 1-9 will be streamed live on the Southland Digital Network with Chris Mycoskie, Steve Owens and Chris Kane sharing play-by-play duties. The games will be available via southland.org/live and the Southland Conference app. In addition to the mobile app, the app is now available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Roku.
The championship round will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN3, which can be viewed via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app with Mycoskie and former Southeastern Louisiana pitcher Kati Morse on the call.