LAKE CHARLES—McNeese softball took advantage of an error and got a clutch two-out single from Chloe Gomez in the sixth inning to begin Southland Conference play with a 1-0 win over Central Arkansas (12-9, 0-1 SLC) here Friday night.
Both teams will meet again Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. to conclude the series.
The game was a pitchers duel between McNeese’s Whitney Tate and UCA’s Kayla Beaver the whole night with both pitchers throwing complete games. Both pitchers were back up by solid defenses who made big plays and catches throughout the game.
“This has been the story of our season with these one-run games, we are very fortunate to come out on this side of it tonight,” said head coach James Landreneau. “We knew going into this game it was going to be a dog fight. We know this is a very good UCA team. They can pitch it and they are well-coached and they play hard.”
McNeese (9-12, 1-0 SLC) missed two chances to score earlier in the game, once in the second inning and once in the fourth, leaving a runner stranded at second base both times with two outs.
With the game scoreless in the sixth, senior Cori McCrary reached base on an error by the UCA shortstop. Her throw sailed over the first baseman’s head and McCrary slid into second and was initially called out. After an umpire’s meeting, the call was reversed because the ball was dropped as McCrary slid into second base.
After a fly ball to left by Kaylee Lopez for the second out, Gomez singled just past the shortstop scoring McCrary from second to break a scoreless game.
“Our catcher Chloe Gomez has some guts. She has made some plays behind the plate and she did her job and came up with the two-out knock that ended up being the difference in the game.”
Tate (2-5) gave up a leadoff walk to start the game then retired the next seven batters she faced. After allowing the first of only four hits in the game to Tremere Harris in the third inning, Tate retired 12 out of the next 16 batters she faced, allowing only three more singles to pick up the complete-game victory. She ended the game-tying her season-high with five strikeouts and picked up her first shutout of the season.
“I thought Whitney Tate did an outstanding job today. She threw 14 or 15 first-pitch strikes and she was pounding the zone and that is the key for us.”
McNeese, the nation’s leaders in double plays turned added another one tonight when UCA’s Mary Kate Brown singled up the middle with one out then Kaylyn Shepherd’s grounder back to Tate started a 1-4-3 double play to get the Cowgirls out of the inning.
“Our defense answered the call today turning another double play and made some big plays. I’m very pleased with our effort today.?
Freshman Aaliyah Ortiz led the Cowgirls at the plate, picking up two of their four hits on the night. Ortiz doubled in the second inning and picked up a single in the fifth. Caylon Brabham picked up the other McNeese hit in the game with a double two-out double in the fourth.
UCA got singles from Jenna Wildeman, Cylla Hill, Tylar Vernon, and Harris.