By Bud Denega, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
HAMMOND – The Northwestern State softball team came up short Thursday night against Stephen F. Austin in its second game of the Southland Conference tournament. But it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities.
The Lady Demons pushed runners into scoring position numerous times but lacked the critical hit. That resulted in top-seeded SFA claiming a 4-1 victory over No. 4-seeded NSU.
“There are a lot of great things in that game,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “But against the best team in the conference, you’ve got to play your best game, and those were the things we didn’t do.”
Northwestern State (23-21) falls to the losers’ bracket. The Lady Demons battle No. 6-seeded Sam Houston at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Stephen F. Austin (35-10) advances to play No. 3-seeded McNeese at 4 p.m.
The Lady Demons put themselves in positions to score for a majority of the night. And the first inning was the one instance where they took advantage.
Freshman infielder Keely DuBois laced a single down the left-field line in the top of the first that staked NSU to the early 1-0 advantage. Unfortunately for the Lady Demons, DuBois big hit didn’t become contagious.
Aside from the first inning, NSU put a runner in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The most threatening was the top of the fifth when the Lady Demons put the first three runners on but couldn’t muster a run.
NSU made SFA starter Kassidy Wilbur — the Southland Conference Player and Pitcher of the Year — grind to improve her record to 30-4. She went all seven innings, allowing one earned run on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
Junior Jensen Howell received the start for NSU. She lasted two innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with one strikeout, dropping to 6-10 on the season.
Freshman Kenzie Seely entered in relief, and pitched another strong outing. She tossed the final four frames, surrendering zero earned run on one hit with one strikeout.
The Lady Jacks scored the pair off Howell in the second to take a 2-1 edge. The tacked on single runs in the third and fifth innings, respectively.
NSU enters its game against Sam Houston having beaten the Bearkats twice during the regular season.
Photo: Beverly Vincent