LAKE CHARLES—On a day for its seniors to shine, it was sophomore Haylee Brinlee who provided the last spark. Brinlee’s two-run walk-off home run in the eighth inning lifted McNeese to a 5-3 come from behind win on senior day in the rubber game of its Southland Conference series here Saturday afternoon to give the Cowgirls the 2-1 overall series win.
McNeese welcomed back its 2020 seniors and honored them prior to today’s game then honored its 2021 seniors following today’s game.
“We came in locked in and rattled off three hits in a row and it was good to see that after last night’s second game,” said head coach James Landreneau. “I’m really proud of our kids for bouncing back after the loss last night. Kaylee Lopez had a great series and continue that in the eighth and Brinlee has been hot and she hit that ball a ton.”
McNeese (28-23, 17-8 SLC) trailed Northwestern State (20-19, 14-10 SLC) 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh before tying the game with a run in the seventh to send it to extra innings.
The Cowgirls utilized a squeeze bunt by pinch hitter Aaliyah Ortiz to score Chloe Gomez from third in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game at three apiece. Gomez led the inning off with a double down the right-field line before going to third on a sac bunt by pinch hitter Jil Poullard.
“We were fortunate in this situation, it just kind of work out in our favor. We got a lead-off double and we couldn’t ask for anything better to start off the inning. Jil gets the sac bunt down and Ortiz did her job with the bunt that allowed us to tie the game and extend it to extra innings.”
Northwestern State left the go-ahead run stranded on first base in the top of the eighth inning after Cayla Jones singled to center with two outs, setting up the dramatic walk-off home run by Brinlee in the eighth inning.
McNeese’s offense was jump-started in its first at bay by three consecutive hits by McCrary, Lopez, and Brinlee to give the Cowgirls an early 2-0 lead in the first inning that chased NW State’s starter Jensen Howell from the circle.
Jensen, who also bats for the Lady Demons took her frustration out the next inning by leading off with a solo home run to cut the McNeese lead to 2-1.
After a Cowgirl pitching change in the third inning, the Lady Demons took a 3-2 lead off a two-run home run by Cayla Jones.
Neither team scored in the next three and a half innings until the Cowgirls tied the game in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
McNeese collected 10 hits on the day and was led by Lopez’s 4 for 4 plate appearance. Brinlee and Gomez ended the game with two hits apiece.
Whitney Tate (10-7) picked up her second win with the win. Tate came into the game to relieve starter Jenna Edwards who allowed two runs on one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Tate allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out three.