For the first time in nearly three full weeks Northwestern State will play a game on its own field. With just three weekends remaining before the conference tournament, a return home could not come at a better time.
“It feels like it’s been a while so we’re definitely glad to get back home and catch our breath a little bit,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “It’s been a busy last couple of weeks and hopefully we can have a big weekend here and come out and try and win the series.”
The Lady Demons (21-19, 7-8) host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi beginning with Friday’s 4 p.m. doubleheader, weather permitting, with a lone Saturday game set for 12 p.m. All games will be broadcast on ESPN+ as NSU faces an Islander team that sits one game ahead of it in the standings.
Back-to-back road series losses at McNeese and UIW have dropped the Lady Demons out of the top four to sixth in the league standings with nine games left. But as with most years in the Southland, the highly competitive league will come down to the last few games for final seedings among the majority of the teams.
A good weekend against the Islanders could see NSU jump back to potentially as high as the three spot.
“Everything is so tight right now in the standings and everybody is really competitive,” Pickett said. “We’ve just got to come out and have good days. Come out and play good ball and be ready to go. Hopefully being back at home will help us do that and be a positive for us.”
The Lady Demons are 8-4 at the Demon Diamond this season and seeking its fifth straight season, not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 year, with 10 or more home wins, which would be the longest such streak under Pickett.
The first task for a good weekend for the Lady Demons will be to put the frustration of the two losses at UIW behind them immediately and play to their full capabilities. The challenge for at least one game, possibly more, will be attacking Corpus ace Primrose Aholelei who enters the weekend leading the Southland in wins with a 15-9 mark, is second in strikeouts with 129 and ERA at 1.80.
Aholelei is coming off her second Pitcher of the Week honor this past week after posting a pair of wins against Lamar allowing just one run and five hits in a pair of complete games.
“They’ve won a lot of low scoring games because she’s been able to keep them in games and they’ve been able to put enough runs across to get those wins,” Pickett said. “Hopefully we can figure out how to get to her early in the game, but we’re going to have to have good pitching as well and make plays behind it. Every run is going to be crucial so we can’t give any away like we did last weekend.”
Corpus won its series against Lamar scoring just eight total runs in three games, getting a 1-0 win in the opener. The Islanders are averaging 3.5 runs per game this season and have scored three or fewer runs in 20 of their 36 total games this season and have a 6-14 record in those games.
The NSU offense has produced plenty in the way of hits over the past few games, putting up 26 in the three game series at UIW. Three players – Tristin Court, Ashlyn Walker and Taylor Williams – all had hits in each of the four games the Demons played a week ago and batted over .400 for the week. Court leads the team with a .390 batting average on 16 hits in conference games, after picking up six this past week.
NSU is 19-5 this season when scoring three or more runs in a game.