McNeese claims second straight SLC Tournament title to earn NCAA - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

McNeese claims second straight SLC Tournament title to earn NCAA Tournament bid

(Source: UCA Sports Information) (Source: UCA Sports Information)
(Source: UCA Sports Information) (Source: UCA Sports Information)
CONWAY, ARKANSAS -

McNeese softball claimed its second straight Southland Conference Tournament title here early Saturday morning by defeating Nicholls 8-0 in a run-rule victory to earn the league’s NCAA automatic bid. The run-rule win is the third of the tournament for McNeese.

“We were able to put good at bats early in the game even though we weren’t getting the results we were looking for,” said head coach James Landreneau. “I thought we were relentless with our approach at the plate and we just kept battling.”

The Cowgirls will find out where they are headed in the regionals when the 64-team bracket is announced at 9 p.m. (CT) Sunday night on ESPN2.

After rain delayed most of the day Friday, the tournament resumed play at 5:30 p.m. pushing the championship game back to an 11 p.m. start.

McNeese picked up eight hits with five being extra base hits including two, two-run home runs to walk away with the victory.

“Our kids have worked hard all year and to see this kind of tournament performance is the fruit of all their hard labor they put in for the entire season.”

Hailey Drew, Tori Yanitor and Carleigh Chaumont all led the Cowgirls with two hits apiece. Yanitor accounted for half of the eight total RBI while Chaumont had three. All three were named to the all-tournament team along with Rachel Smith and Justyce McClain. For the second straight year, Erika Piancastelli was named the tournament’s MVP.

The first three innings was a pitcher’s dual between Cowgirl starter Smith and Nicholls’ Jackie Johnson until the fourth inning.

McNeese broke through with its first run in the fourth inning when Piancastelli reached on a leadoff walk. Piancastelli put herself in scoring position by stealing second base then went to third on another stolen base. A RBI single to left field by Drew broke the scoreless game by bringing Piancastelli home for a 1-0 lead.

Yanitor gave McNeese a 3-0 lead with a two RBI home run that hit the top of the left field fence and fell over for her sixth homer of the season.

McNeese kept the pressure on Johnson with Taylor Schmidt’s 14th double of the year then another two-run home run by Carleigh Chaumont, her fourth of the year to extend the lead to 5-0.

Smith gave up back-to-back hits in the fifth but got the next three batters out to end the Nicholls threat.

Despite a Nicholls pitching change to in the bottom of the fifth, the Cowgirls continued its hot hitting against Megan Landry who relieved Johnson.

Another leadoff walk was issued to Piancastelli and another stolen base moved her into scoring position. Following Morgan Catron’s hit by pitch, Drew picked up another single that sent Piancastelli to third. Yanitor’s second two RBI hit scored both Piancastelli and pinch runner Marisa Taunton for a 7-0 lead. The game ended when Chaumont doubled to left center that scored Drew.

Smith improved to 17-7 on the year with her second tournament win and her fourth shutout of the season. Smith allowed only three hits, walked two and struck out three. Smith didn’t allow a Nicholls runner past second base.

“You just have to be happy for Rachel. She stayed the course with this team. She’s a team leader and she comes to the game wanting the ball all the time. She competes extremely hard in the circle and today she had good stuff,” said Landreneau.

MVP: Erika Piancastelli, McNeese

All-Tournament Team:
Tori Yanitor, McNeese
Gretchen Morgan, Nicholls
Justyce McClain, McNeese
Veronica Villafranco, Nicholls
Brittany Jones, Northwestern State
Carleigh Chaumont, McNeese
Hailey Drew, McNeese
Rachel Smith, McNeese
Megan Landry, Nicholls
Kayla Gomness, Central Arkansas
Morgan Felts, Central Arkansas


Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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