LAKE CHARLES – Northwestern State continues to refine and raise its level of play week over week and will look to maintain that trajectory when it faces the top team in the Southland Conference this week.
After three sweeps in its first three series of the year, McNeese (26-11, 9-0) is the only unbeaten team in league play. They host the Lady Demons (18-15, 5-4) starting on Thursday of this week at 6 p.m. with a Good Friday doubleheader set to start at 1 p.m., all games and times weather permitting.
There will be no live video steam of any of the games in Lake Charles. Live stat links will be available at www.nsudemons.com.
NSU has won two straight conference series after a fairly dominant performance against HCU where it allowed just three runs in three games. The lone blip in the series was a 2-1 loss in the middle game, where the offense squandered five no-hit innings from starting pitcher Kenzie Seely, her second straight quality conference start.
Otherwise, Keely Dubois led an offensive charge that scored 14 runs in 12 innings with her three doubles and four RBI on the weekend, the most recent total for one of the hottest bats in the NSU order.
“She’s somebody that can be a big impact in our lineup,” Pickett said of the NSU short stop. “She got off to a little bit of a slow start but is really starting to swing the bat and do the things we know she can do and has done in the past. That’s going to be big for us going through the rest of this conference season. We have to continue to make our lineup more consistent and deeper and she’s one of the players that allows us to do that.”
Her three two-baggers on the weekend gives her a career-high 11 for the season and has her ranked in the top 25 in the country in doubles this season. Each of the three she hit against HCU drove in a run and she has 10 of her 26 total RBIs this season on seven of her 11 doubles.
“I really just try and focus on picking out my pitch that I like and see it to contact,” Dubois said. “I can’t control the outcome, just as long as I see it to contact then I know the hits will come one way or another. My goal is to try and be consistent, stay focused in the box every at bat and see my pitch and drive it.”
The Demons are batting .289 as a team in conference play, led by Dubois’ .429 clip. They take on a Cowgirl pitching staff that has six shut outs in their first nine league games and did not allow a run in the sweep of Texas A&M-Commerce.
Senior Whitney Tate has two of the Cowgirl conference shutouts with a 0.33 ERA and a 4-0 record in four starts with a .158 opponent’s batting average. She is a two-time conference pitcher of the week, including this past week when she allowed just one run in 15.0 innings of work.
With four run-rule wins in the past three weekends, the McNeese offense has been just as potent as the pitching staff. They are hitting .400 as a team and averaging 7.2 runs on 10.0 hits per game.
“They’re really good players and have done a really good job down there which is why they’ve been at the top of the conference the past few years,” Pickett said. “Going down to their place it’s going to take out best game and we have to do the things we know to do to help us win. It’ll definitely be a challenge for us, but I think our kids have competed well with them in the past and it’s a chance to play a really good team and see where you stack up right now.”