NACOGDOCHES, Texas— Senior Erika Piancastelli broke the Southland’s career home run record, sophomore Alexsandra Flores returned home to throw a gem, and McNeese softball clinched a berth in the Southland Conference Tournament with a 5-0, game one victory at Stephen F. Austin Friday night. The series will conclude Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. Both games will be streamed on Facebook Live and live stats will also be provided. Link can be found on mcneesesports.com.
Piancastelli broke the conference record with her 70th career home run and her 17th of the season in her first at bat of the game with a solo shot over the left field fence to give McNeese a 1-0 lead. The 11-year-old record was held by Texas-San Antonio’s Jessica Rogers who played for the Roadrunners from 2003-05, 2007. Piancastelli’s record total is now at a combined 16 records, both McNeese and Southland Conference. It’s the fourth SLC career record she breaks this season.
“Erika got things going with a big fly in the first which was a huge tempo setter,” said McNeese head coach James Landreneau. “I’m so happy for Erika, she had no clue about the record until after the game. We are truly blessed to have such a talented, humble kid in our program.”
Flores, the native of Lufkin, Texas retired the first 11 batters she faced before giving up back to back singles in the fourth inning but got out of the inning by getting Autumn Hollaway to foul out to catcher Aubree Turbeville for the third out. Flores would go onto retire the next six batter before allowing two more Ladyjacks to reach base the rest of the game.
“Flores did an outstanding job of competing tonight. She pitched with command and confidence,” said Landreneau.
After hitting Taylor Fraccastoro in the sixth inning, she gave up her third hit of the game to Margarita Corona in the sixth but got out of the inning with her fifth strikeout of the game. Flores would go on to allow one more hit in the seventh before getting Amber Landry to hit into a double play and Lauren Becker to fly out to center to end the game.
McNeese (34-16, 16-6 SLC) scored four runs on three hits in the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead. A two RBI double to right center by Tayler Strother gave the Cowgirls a 2-0 lead before a single through the left side by Morgan Catron put McNeese up 3-0. Alexandria Saldivar drew a bases loaded walk to score McClain then Carleigh Chaumont’s sacrifice fly to left field scored Piancastelli for a 5-0 lead.
“SFA has an outstanding pitching staff so we knew runs would hard to come by. We were able to get a couple walks in the fifth along with some timely hitting that started with Strother’s double.”
McNeese ended the game with five hits with five different players accounting for one hit apiece. Piancastelli and Strother had the only extra base hits of the game.
Flores improved to 16-7 on the year with the complete game shutout. The shutout is her and fourth of the season. Flores allowed four hits, struck out five and didn’t allow a walk on the night.
Stephen F. Austin (27-18, 15-7 SLC) was led at the plate by Corona’s two hits. Makayla Sikes fell to 16-7 on the year with the loss. Sikes gave up five earned runs on five hits along with five walks and three strike outs in 4 1/3 innings. Clarissa Hernandez pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief and allowed two walks.
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