After two weeks at home, Northwestern State begins an eight-game road swing on Tuesday with its second midweek contest of the season at Louisiana Tech.
The Lady Demons (12-9, 1-2) and the Lady Techsters (15-8, 1-2) play the first of two meetings this season in Ruston beginning at 6 p.m. airing live on Conference-USA TV with links available to the stream at www.nsudemons.com.
Both teams are coming off home series losses in their first conference weekends of the season, NSU dropping two-of-three to Lamar while Tech lost two-of-three to North Texas. The Lady Techsters two losses were by a combined three runs, including a 3-1 defeat in 11 innings to open the series.
The Demon bats were held in check for most of the weekend against Lamar, save for the nine-hit, five-run performance in the game two win. NSU combined for nine hits in the other two games and scored just three runs, missing chances to either add to the lead or cut into it with runners in scoring position throughout the weekend.
That frustration was amplified by Lamar’s ability to get those coveted two-out hits, seemingly every time it mattered most, on its way to 11 total runs in the two wins coming with two-outs in the inning.
“You have to be able to respond to things when something doesn’t go your way and have a little more toughness about you,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “You can’t get deflated like I think we did a little there early in that last game. We’ve got to continue to play the game and play it the right way no matter if something good or bad happens.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players and some upper classman that I hope can maybe bring some stuff out of their teammates and have some leaders step up and say the things that need to be said that will help us moving forward.”
NSU’s experience and toughness will be put to the test right away this week as it faces the best pitching staff in C-USA Tuesday in Ruston.
The Lady Techsters have a 1.80 team ERA and have allowed just 40 earned runs in 23 games this season. They have the 37th lowest team ERA in the country and have thrown six shutouts this year. Tech has allowed just six earned runs in the past eight games combined.
With no pitcher currently with more than 20 strikeouts this season, the Lady Techsters have relied on a quality defense to produce the bulk of their outs this year, similar to what the Demons have done the past couple weeks after some early-season growing pains.
NSU committed 12 errors in the first two weekends of the season and have made just six in the past three weekends. The four against Lamar led to just two unearned runs but were overshadowed by the numerous plays made throughout the weekend, especially from the left side of the infield in Tristin Court at third and Keely Dubois at short.
Both NSU and Tech are averaging less than one error per game this season with fielding percentages above .966 on the year as a team. Hits could be at a premium in a game that both teams want to win after falling below .500 in their first weekends of conference play.
“We’ve just got to get back to work and try to keep getting better,” Pickett said. “It doesn’t get any easier with Tech on Tuesday. They’re a very competitive team and hopefully we can learn some things and have a bit of a self-evaluation of everybody, come back and continue to move forward for the next time.”