Northwestern State could not have picked a better time to be playing some of its best softball

With a 5-1 final week of the non-conference schedule, that included an extra-inning win against 2021 WCWS finalist James Madison, and a sweep of Houston Baptist to open Southland Conference play, the Lady Demons (21-12, 3-0) have won nine of their last 10 games.

They enter the second weekend of league play, following a 6-2 win against Louisiana Tech earlier this week, with the first home series of the year against Nicholls (9-20, 1-2). The three-game set starts with a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Friday afternoon and ends with a noon first pitch on Saturday.

All games will be available at www.nsudemons.com/watch with live stat links on the website or NSU Athletics mobile app, a free download via the Apple or Google Stores.

Saturday’s finale also offers fans the opportunity to purchase a $10 ticket that provides entry to the game along with two free beers.

Through the first month of the season the NSU pitching staff, that continues to dominate and lead the conference in every major pitching category, carried the team. The quartet threw multiple shutouts and didn’t allow a team to score more than five runs in a game until three weeks into the season.

After Tuesday’s win where freshman Sage Hoover threw her second straight complete game with 10 or more strikeouts, the staff has held opponents to two runs or less 18 times, more than half of the total games played.

With nine wins in the past 10 games, the credit can be shared with the performance at the plate just as much as in the circle. NSU has scored 28 runs in its last four games and 62 in the nine most recent wins with a total of 96 hits, raising the team batting average 25 points during the stretch.

“In year’s past we’ve started off preseason so strong,” fourth-year Lady Demon and recent returnee to the lineup Alexis Perry said. “With a lot of teams that can go downhill. With us we started off kind of slow, but we’ve kept on going and going and getting better.

“I think we’re just now starting to hit our stride at the perfect time. We’ve been putting in work week after week. A lot of the hitters are putting in extra work before practice and we’re all communicating with each other on what we’re seeing at the plate. I think that communication and the work we’ve been doing is helping this offense come alive at the right time.”

Each of the first five batters in the lineup has 10 or more hits in the past 10 games, led by Laney Roos’ 17 and Taylor Williams’ 15. Their ability to get on base has set the stage for the RBI machine that has been Keely DuBois, who now leads the conference with 30 overall after driving in 19 over the course of the past two weeks.

She is also one of three Lady Demons that have an on-base streak of 10 or more heading into the weekend series with Nicholls. No coincidence that the other two are Williams and Roos.

It hasn’t been just the first five in the order that have produced. Tristin Court has a pair of home runs and Kat Marshall is tied for the second most RBIs during the last 10 games with eight batted in, six coming in the past two games.

The relentlessness of the NSU lineup is the primary thing that head coach Donald Pickett has been looking for and what he was most proud and pleased to see from Tuesday’s win against the Lady Techsters.

“We were up 2-0 and they hit the ball out to tie the game,” he said. “Sage locked right back in and dominated the rest of the way. We came back in the bottom of the inning and put two back on them and never looked back. Nobody every panicked. We were all in it and doing what it took to win the game and by playing together.”

Putting together complete team games and playing with more mental toughness has been the key for the Lady Demons since their trip to Houston three weeks ago, a clear turning-point moment in the season.

The Lady Demons won the next five games after that weekend to start the current winning stretch and have only gotten better since that handful of wins. They will look to continue with that same mentality and “hunger” according to Pickett as they host Nicholls who lost two of three at UIW to open league play a week ago.

PHOTO: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services


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