NATCHITOCHES – A defensive miscue ultimately cost the Northwestern State softball team in extra innings Tuesday night against Louisiana Tech.
However, the Lady Demon offense was just as culpable in the 3-2, 15-inning loss to the Lady Techsters at the Lady Demon Diamond.
Northwestern State (19-17) stranded 21 runners in the game, including leaving the bases loaded four times on the night.
“We have to be better situational hitters,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “I felt like we dominated game for the most part. They got the one hit with two outs (in the seventh inning). We were down to the last strike to win the game. The problem is, we should not have been up only 2-0 at that point with two outs and two strikes in the seventh inning. We had way too many opportunities to score.”
While the Lady Demons had chance upon chance to capitalize against Louisiana Tech starter Audrey Pickett, the Lady Techsters (19-24) found little success against NSU right-hander Kenzie Seely.
Seely, a freshman making just her fourth start, handcuffed the Lady Techsters through 6 2-3 scoreless innings before Kylie Neel turned in the most pivotal at-bat of the game.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Neel battled Seely for 11 pitches – surviving a very close call on a 2-2 pitch on the inner half – before depositing Seely’s 12th pitch of the at-bat in the right-center field gap for a game-tying, two-run double.
Seely escaped further damage by inducing a Lindsey Edwards groundout to end the inning. Seely worked a career-long seven innings scattering eight hits and striking out three.
“Kenzie’s got a chance to be great here,” Donald Pickett said. “She has a lot of great things going for her. She’s a competitor. I’m really proud of her. In this wild year, losing all these games (to weather), she hasn’t had the innings she deserves to have. She keeps doing that, she’ll be big for us down the stretch.”
E.C. Delafield (9-3) relieved Seely after Jordan Manning led off the eighth inning with a double. Delafield escaped that jam and kept things tied until the 15th inning when Zoe Hicks led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-base error to put Louisiana Tech ahead for the first time in the game.
Hannah Koenig (1-3), who relieved Audrey Pickett after the Louisiana Tech starter threw 227 pitches in 12 2-3 innings, set down Northwestern State in order in the 15th to earn her first win of the season.
The quiet final inning stood in contrast to most of the game for the Lady Demons, who put at least two runners on board in seven of its 15 offensive innings.
Northwestern State converted those opportunities into two second-inning runs thanks to an RBI single from leadoff hitter Laney Roos (2-for-6) and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Keely DuBois (2-for-6).
Those were the only runs for NSU, which left 21 runners on base despite a combined 10 hits from the top four spots in its order – Roos, Kaitlyn St. Clair (3-for-7), Cayla Jones (3-for-8) and DuBois.
“I don’t know if we were just anxious, trying to swing too big,” Donald Pickett said. “We’ve got to get back to shortening those swings, using the middle of the field and having quality at-bats to put it together. We got going a lot with two outs tonight. We’d get runners in scoring position with two outs and couldn’t get that big hit. We also had just one extra-base hit (Hayley Barbazon’s two-out double in the ninth). A couple of extra-base hits would have opened things up. We have players who are capable of doing that, but tonight, it didn’t happen.”
Northwestern State returns to action Friday when it travels to Lake Charles to face McNeese in the opener of a three-game Southland Conference series. First pitch in Friday’s single game is set for 6:30 p.m.