CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Good teams find a way to win even when they don’t play their best.
Northwestern State has proven throughout the season, in all phases of the game, that it is a good team. It did so again this past weekend with its second conference series win in two tries with a pair of one-run win against Nicholls.
“We didn’t play our best this past weekend,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “The way we played and approached the game I think we were lucky to win two games. But we got those games and won the series.
“You always like to sweep at home, but we were able to take the series and hopefully we’ll be able to learn from that and know that it’s going to get tougher as we move forward.”
The challenge of the longest conference road trip of the season awaits the Lady Demons (23-13, 5-1) as they make their final trip to the state of Texas to take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (12-21, 0-3) in a three-game series to reach the midpoint of the conference schedule.
The teams are set for a Friday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. and will end with a noon start on Saturday. All games are available to watch via the Islander Digital Network with links located at http://www.nsudemons.com, or on the NSU Athletics mobile app, a free download in the Apple or Google stores.
NSU got its standard elite pitching performance in each of the three games with the Colonels, but the bats cooled off ever so slightly from the blazing production they had in the previous two weeks. The Lady Demons scored nine runs in the series with Nicholls after putting up 22 the week prior at HBU, and six earlier in the week against Louisiana Tech.
“I told them after the series that it was big to win those games even though we struggled,” Pickett said. “We kept fighting back and gave ourselves a chance to win every game. For them to continue to compete and find a way to win says a lot of good things. I’d just rather be in a situation where we’re not having to do that all the time.
“We’ve had a good week of practice and they’re excited to get back on the field. We want to get back to playing the game the way we want to play it and getting some really good results this weekend.”
In addition to the pitching performances, that aside from two innings allowed just one run in the other 20 against Nicholls, the defense has been an area of strength for the team. But with success in the circle and at the plate, has been overlooked at times thus far this year.
Over the past nine games, the Lady Demons have committed just three errors and only two in the first six conference games. NSU currently leads the league with a .968 fielding percentage.
“We show up every day and put in lots of hard work,” second baseman Taylor Williams said. “We do what we can because we know our pitchers are going to show up for us so we have to show up for them.”
Williams has made multiple highlight reel plays from her spot in the middle infield in the past two weeks and gone 10 straight games without an error with more than 30 opportunities. One of her busiest games was the series finale at HBU where she had three putouts and five assists without a misstep behind Bronte Rhoden’s performance in the circle.
“I love defense,” she said. “I try and work every pitch, stay locked in and do the best I can. When you make those big plays and your team is up behind you and you get the cheers and everything it makes you feel so good. I just love that I get to do that for them and play behind them.”
Good pitching and defense will play on any field. That’s what the Lady Demons carry in the entire roster’s first trip to Corpus Christi. NSU last played on the island in 2017 after the 2020 series in South Texas was canceled in the COVID-shortened season.
“It’s a tough place to play and our longest conference trip of the year,” Pickett said. “They’ve got some new coaches down there and they’re doing well and doing some good things in their first year.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us and we have got to play better than we did last weekend if we want to go down there and be able to win games. I think the practices that we’ve had this week, the girls know that. Looking forward to getting down there and seeing what happens.”
PHOTO: Evelyn Winger