If there are two things that will win a lot of games they are quality pitching and timely hitting. Northwestern State got both of those on Friday in a 3-1 opening-day win against UTSA.
Redshirt sophomore Maggie Darr twirled six strong innings allowing just one run on three hits with nine strikeouts to pick up her first win of the season in the circle. The Lady Demons (1-0) provided all the support Darr needed with three runs on three two-out hits in the middle innings.
“Maggie came out and gave us a quality start,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “The third time through the lineup I think she was getting a little tired and they started getting the timing a little bit and Bronte (Rhoden) was able to come in and shut it down. We did a really good job of moving runners tonight, getting them into scoring position and got the timely hits we needed, and we got them from different people.”
Darr quickly settled into a groove after surrendering a leadoff double on the second pitch of the game. She struck out the next three hitters in a row to strand the runner and K’d two more in the second, giving her five in just two innings of work.
She had at least one strikeout in each of her six full innings of work and did not allow another hit following the leadoff double until a sixth-inning single to start that inning.
By that time the Demon offense had provided enough run support on their end.
Tristin Court opened the third with NSU’s first hit of the season which led to its first run four batters later. A wild pitch and sacrifice bunt, one of three successful in the game on three attempts for NSU, moved Court to third with two outs, Laney Roos collected her first RBI of the season with a sharp single up the middle.
Small ball worked again in the fourth after a Kat Marshall leadoff double and a Makenzie Chaffin sac bunt put pinch runner Vivica Hernandez at third with one out. Court came through this time with a single down the line to score Hernandez and give the Demons the 2-0 lead.
The Demons cashed in one final time with two out in the fifth on a Keely Dubois double to left center that scored Taylor Williams who started the inning with a walk.
NSU went 3-for-9 with two outs in the game, with each of the three knocks bringing in a run.
“We hit the ball pretty well but were hitting them right at them the first part of the game,” Pickett said. “I was proud of them for not getting frustrated by that after hitting the ball hard with nothing to show for it.
“They were able keep playing, stay relaxed in the box and do something positive for the team. Our lineup is deeper offensively than it was last year, and it really paid off today with different people stepping up at different times.”
The only tense moments of the game for the Demons came in the seventh inning after a pair of hits put runners at the corners with just one out. Bronte Rhoden induced a ground ball to third for the second out that allowed the runner from third to score. After an error loaded the bases, the senior got a chopper back to her in the circle to record the final out.
Court finished the day with a pair of hits and an RBI while Dubois and Marshall each had doubles. Darr earned her first win of the season and Rhoden the save.