GRAMBLING – Sometimes it’s that little bit extra that makes all the difference.
That is what head coach Donald Pickett hopes his Northwestern State softball team realizes as they enter the final stretch of the season with just two more conference series remaining.
Before the Lady Demons (25-17, 7-5) begin their final home series of the year this weekend, they play their final midweek game with a quick trip to Grambling to close the 2022 home-and-home series with the Lady Tigers.
First pitch for the single game is set for 3 p.m. from the GSU Softball complex. NSU won the first meeting this season 8-1 on March 1 in Natchitoches.
The game Tuesday will be the first indicator for Pickett on how his team responds from the previous weekend’s series with McNeese. The three-game set had a pair of ultra-competitive one-run games that went against the Lady Demons before a six-run outburst in game three helped NSU avoid a sweep with an 8-3 win.
NSU was one or two plays in the first two games from knocking the preseason favorite and SLC leaders from their perch atop the standings with a season-defining sweep.
“When you’re in a series like that, as a competitor you want to be able to step up and make plays at the right time,” Pickett said. “To do those things and be successful in those key moments you need to put the extra work in during the week.
“The game knows. It knows who’s putting the time and effort in. I hope it really motivates our kids to put more time in. After they handle all their school stuff, I hope they put in a lot of time and effort and realizing they’ve got a great opportunity to finish this season strong.”
The tightly contested series was just the latest in a stretch of three weekends of razor-thin conference play for NSU.
In their past nine games, all in SLC play, the Lady Demons have had seven games decided by one run, including all three games in the series with Nicholls and the first two at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. NSU is 3-4 in those games and now 7-7 on the season in one-run games.
The eight runs scored in the finale was the most allowed by McNeese in conference play this year. That plus the knowledge that the other two games could easily have gone the other way, Pickett hopes the motivation to put in the extra work comes easy to the team.
A midweek game against a team they have beaten the past 12 times in a row provides a prime opportunity to fully seize the momentum and continue to add to it with the upcoming final home series this weekend.
PHOTO: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services.
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