LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Solid pitching, defense, and one big inning was all McNeese softball needed to pick up a 7-0 shutout win in the opening game of its Southland Conference series over Abilene Christian here Friday.
The series will conclude with a doubleheader Saturday that has been moved up to a noon start. With the win, the Cowgirls improve to 20-21 overall and 10-6 in the SLC while ACU drops to 7-18 overall and 3-13 in the SLC.
Freshman Whitney Tate (7-7) was steady in the circle, allowing seven hits including only one extra-base hit. Tate gave up a leadoff double in the second inning and got out of a jam that inning by starting a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat. The shutout for Tate is her third of the season.
”Whitney did what we asked her to do,” said head coach James Landreneau. “Especially once we got the lead, she went after people and didn’t get behind in the count and we were able to play some good defense behind her.”
The Cowgirls gave Tate run support in the second inning by scoring six runs on four hits and took advantage of three consecutive walks by ACU’s starting pitcher.
”We had a good inning. I thought we were patient at the plate, we didn’t try to do too much, and we were able to get some timely hits.”
Haylee Brinlee got things started for the Cowgirls in the second inning with a leadoff double down the right-field line. After a walk by Alayis Seneca, Aaliyah Ortiz laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. A walk by Tayler Strother scored Brinlee for a 1-0 lead then another walk by Gracie Devall scored Seneca for a 2-0 lead.
After an ACU pitching change, Poullard’s single scored two more runs for a 4-0 lead. Following a strikeout, Toni Perrin singled to score two more runs to extend the lead to 6-0.
McNeese added another run in the fourth inning for the 7-0 lead on a ground out by Perrin that scored McCrary.
The Cowgirls played solid defense behind Tate, who got 19 outs on either a ground ball or a line drive. The other two outs she induced came on a foul out to Brinlee at third base and a pop-up to Strother at second base. McNeese added to its nation-leading double plays with three in the game, giving the Cowgirls 30 on the season.
Poullard led the Cowgirls’ hitting attack, going 2 for 4 with two RBI and one stolen base. Perrin ended the game with three RBI and one hit. Cori McCrary and Brinlee picked up the Cowgirls’ only extra-base hits in the game with one double apiece.
The Wildcats also picked up seven hits in the game and were led by Shaylee Alani’s two hits. Riley White took the loss, falling to 4-11 on the season. White gave up five runs on three hits with two walks in one inning of work.