Northwestern State is tied for the Southland Conference lead in home runs, but it’ll be fans’ and students’ swinging for the fences Tuesday at Lady Demon Diamond following the doubleheader against Prairie View A&M.
NSU (24-24) is hosting its Fork Cancer Homerun Derby with a portion of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Adults get five swings for $10 and kids 12-and-under get five swings for $5. Fans can register online at nsudemons.com or beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the stadium and will stop in the fifth inning of the final game. Payment can be cash or credit card.
“It’s pretty cool knowing that baseball has a home run derby at the (Southland Conference Tournament), so it’s cool that we get to have our own one here,” St. Clair said. “It’ll be our community participating, and I think it’ll be fun to watch.”
Sophomore Cayla Jones (seven home runs) and freshman Alexis Perry (six home runs) lead the way for a Lady Demons’ squad that’s belted 31 homers this season.
Perry is part of a freshman power surge that includes Riley Cantrell (four homers), Maggie Black (four homers) and Marissa Reed (one home run). Freshman have accounted for 15 of the 31 dingers.
Tuesday’s opponent Prairie View A&M is also no stranger to the long ball as Laurisa Hernandez has hit nine this season on a team that has 25 home runs.
The Lady Panthers (27-12) lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 14-2 regular season mark one season after winning the league tournament title and making an NCAA Tournament appearance.
“We’re excited to be back home and participate in a cool event like the Fork Cancer Home Run Derby,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We hope people turn out for that and also come watch us take on a really good Prairie View team.
“They have some good wins against quality opponents, and they have proven to be a quality team.”
NSU split with Prairie View this past season in Texas, winning 8-1 and dropping a 4-2 decision. The Lady Demons lead the all-time series 11-1 and are 4-0 against SWAC members this season with a pair of wins against Grambling and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Lady Panthers have gone 3-5 against Southland Conference squads, taking three of four from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with losses to Southeastern, Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist and Stephen F. Austin. Prairie View can also count UTSA and Wichita State in their non-conference wins.
NSU will attempt to bounce back from a series sweep this past weekend at SFA, but Pickett said Saturday’s performance in a 3-2, eight-inning loss was encouraging.
“We’ll learn from this past weekend,” Pickett said. “We made some mistakes in Friday’s (two losses), and we didn’t respond well.
“But we responded much better Saturday. We’re not as consistent on offense as we have been, and that puts a lot of pressure on our pitching and defense.”
The Lady Demons will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a three-game series against Central Arkansas.
Both teams have clinched spots in the SLC Tournament, which will be held in Natchitoches from May 7-10, but seeding will still be on the line.
An NSU series win guarantees itself of at least a No. 7 seed with a shot at a No. 6 seed and an outshot as a five seed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Beverly Vincent/NSU Athletics