A four-run fourth inning including home runs by Erika Piancastelli and Brenique Wright along with a complete game by Alexsandra Flores helped McNeese softball to a 5-3 Southland Conference opening series win here Friday night. The series will conclude with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
McNeese (23-11, 6-4 SLC) and Northwestern State (20-10, 8-2 SLC) both had five hits apiece. The Cowgirls had five different players pick up one hit apiece. Besides Piancastelli and Wright picking up hits, Justyce McClain, Morgan Catron, and Alexandria Saldivar also had singles. Wright led all players with three RBI.
Flores improved to 11-4 overall with the complete game. Flores gave up three unearned runs on four hits, struck out four and didn’t allow a walk.
Northwestern State had two extra-base hits with a triple from Madelyn Matt and a double by Sidney Harris. Sidney Salmans and Cayla Jones both had singles. Micaela Bouvier (10-4) also pitched a complete game, giving up four earned runs on five hits, struck out six and walked four.
McNeese jumped on the Lady Demons early and took a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat. Justyce McClain led the game off by reaching on an error. She went to second on a walk to Piancastelli then stole third. A two-out single by Alexandria Saldivar scored McClain for the 1-0 lead.
Northwestern State left the tying run on in the second inning with one out. Flores struck out Hayley Barbazon and got Emma Hawthorne to fly out to left to keep the Lady Demons off the board.
McNeese extended its lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning via the long ball. Piancastelli’s solo homer to left center field, her 11th of the season put the Cowgirls up 2-0 then Catron singled, Hailey Drew walked before Brenique Wright hit her seventh home run of the season, a three-run homer to right center to extend the Cowgirl lead to 5-0.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, NW State scored three runs with two outs in the fifth to cut the McNeese lead to 5-3.
A triple down the left field line by Matt scored both Hawthorne and Toni Hebert for the first two runs of the game for the Lady Demons. Hawthorne reached base on an error and Hebert was hit by a pitch. Matt later scored on a single to center by Jones for the third Lady Demon run.
McNeese missed a golden opportunity to add to its lead in the top of the seventh. With one out and the bases juiced, Bouvier struck out pincher hitter Taylor Edwards and Brenique Wright to end the Cowgirl threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Flores got two quick outs by getting Adele Vincent to fly out to left then got Hebert to go down looking. After giving up a single to Salmans, Matt represented the tying run at the plate but Flores Matt to go down swinging to end the game.
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