NSU Softball hosts Grambling in Mardi Gras midweek

After a three-win weekend at the Mardi Gras Mambo, Northwestern State will look to turn Fat Tuesday into a winning Tuesday as it hosts Grambling in the first home midweek game of the season.

First pitch against the Lady Tigers is set for 5 p.m. at Lady Demon Diamond. Live video of the game will be available at www.nsudemons.com/watch or on the NSU Athletics mobile app, a free download in either the Apple or Google stores.

“Excited about getting back home and playing in front of the home crowd,” head coach Donald Pickett said after 11 straight road games. “Hopefully the weather will be nice and we can have a good crowd and hopefully we’ll be able to learn some things from this weekend and build a little momentum heading into the next.”

Among the things the Lady Demons (9-6) learned in their five-game weekend set in Youngsville was the importance of early runs, the ability to fight through tough situations, the need to keep forcing the issue on offense and that they have the ability to be a pretty good team.

NSU scored in the first or second inning in all three of their wins on the weekend, including seven total runs in the second inning against Eastern Illinois and St. Thomas. They had a three-run first on Sunday against Portland State and led 6-2 after three innings, but left runners on the bases along the way, missed opportunities that ultimately came back to haunt them.

Against PSU, they also learned that the pitching staff that had been dominating games this season was in fact human. A combined eight walks and one hit batter led to five Vikings runs in the 9-7 loss on Sunday.

“We pitched everybody today and all of them had issues with it,” Pickett said after that game. “We are better than that and I don’t think that’s going to happen very much at all this year but today was one of those games.”

After the uncharacteristic outing for the staff that still leads the conference with a 2.30 ERA and, 132 strikeouts, .211 opponent batting average and allowing just 2.3 earned runs per game, the first thing Pickett wants to see against Grambling is a short memory from the quartet.

“I want to see the pitchers bounce back and get back to doing the things they’ve been doing all year,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the lead early and stay on them and be able to keep teams down and not let them back in the game.

“Grambling has given us problems in the past, so we’ll have to go in ready to play and understand that we’ve got to play a full game from the first pitch to the last. We’ve got to keep working towards that and keeping that focus and building that competitiveness in us to complete those games.”

NSU has won the last 11 games in a row against Grambling, including a pair of run-rule wins a year ago. The two games prior to that however were decided by less than three runs total with NSU winning 3-1 at Grambling in 2020 and 2-1 in Natchitoches in 2019.

Photo: Evelyn Winger