Lady Demons split pair of one-run games on final day in Commerce

COMMERCE, Texas – Northwestern State completed one comeback win but fell just short in a second, splitting a pair of one-run games to close the regular season road schedule. 

The Lady Demons (24-22, 10-11) erased a three-run deficit following an overnight weather delay to get a 5-4 win to start the day but their late-game rally fell short in the second, falling 4-3 in the series finale. 

“I was proud of the way they came out after the delay to keep that momentum we had the night before and get that win,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “We can’t put people on for free like we did in that second game and expect to have success. We had more walks than they had hits in that game and Commerce took advantage of it.” 

NSU 5, Commerce 4 

Like they did in the first game on Friday, the Lions jumped ahead in the bottom of the first inning. The first three batters of the game reached base with base hits before a strikeout, fielder’s choice out a home and a nearly two our lightning delay. 

Following the lengthy break, the first pitch back from Kenzie Seely bounced in and through the legs of Ashlyn Walker behind the plate allowing the runner from third to score.  

The Lions added to their lead in the bottom of the third by having the first three batters reach base once again. A single and double from the first two made it a 2-0 game and a sacrifice fly later made it 3-0. 

Keely Dubois started the next inning with her team-leading 14th double of the season and was immediately followed by a laser from Kat Marshall to left center and her 11th two-bagger giving the Demons their first run of the day. 

As soon as the Demons seemed to be gaining some momentum, Mother Nature intervened with another rain storm and lightning delay that forced the suspension of play until the next day. 

The 14 and a half hours between at bats did little to squelch the momentum the Lady Demons picked up before the delay as Makenzie Chaffin ripped the fourth pitch she saw into right to put runners at the corners with no outs. 

Laney Roos flared a ball down the line in right for a double to make it a 3-2 game and after a Camryn Ford walk loaded the bases, Bailie Ragsdale took a five-pitch walk with the bags full to tie the game at three. 

The three doubles in the fourth ignited the double-happy Demons who added two more in the fifth, with Dubois’ team-leading 15th to start the inning. Tristin Court, the star of game two’s day two lined a two-run, two-out double to right giving the Demons the 5-3 lead. 

The five doubles in the game was the second most in a single game this season for the Demons and the most in a conference game. 

Court’s go-ahead, and eventual game-winning, double was the highlight that accompanied another quality performance in the field. The Demon third baseman accounted for three outs at the hot corner over the final two innings to help secure the come-from-behind win. 

Ryleigh Denton threw the final two innings of the game getting each of the six batters she faced on ground ball outs to pick up her second save in as many weeks. 

Commerce 4, NSU 3 

The teams sped through the first two and a half innings of the game before the Demons ran into the first bit of trouble in the bottom of the third. 

A single and two walks loaded the bases, giving the Lions the opportunity to score first for the third time in the series. A bases clearing double to the gap in left center made it a 3-0 game in the blink of an eye and sent the Demons to the bullpen. 

Ryleigh Denton got out the Demons out of the inning, getting the final out as she covered home on a wild pitch but the two walks and the double produced big damage for the home team. 

Denton was able to push her season-long streak without allowing an earned run to 15 2/3 innings by finishing the game, only allowing one run to score on a two-out error at first that gave Commerce a 4-0 lead after four innings of play. 

NSU pitchers walked four total batters and hit two more, putting six on without the benefit of a hit, two of those runners scored as the Lions managed just three total hits on the day. 

After struggling to diagnose Commerce ace Julia Sanchez in her third appearance against the Demons on the weekend, holding NSU hitless through the first four innings, the NSU bats finally began to square up the ball in the sixth inning. 

Dubois drilled her third double of the weekend, her team-leading 16th of the season, down the line in right to get the Demons on the board. Two more hard hit balls from Marshall and Chaffin ended the inning though as they found the gloves of the outfielders. 

Three of the first four batters of the seventh reached base for the Demons in the top of the seventh, putting the potential tying run on first. Ragsdale got her second RBI of the day on a bases loaded walk and send the Lions to the bullpen to try and close the game, now with the tying run 60 feet closer. 

A soft grounder to short made it a one run game as Court came in to score, but the Lions traded the run for the second out, getting Dubois to fly out to right to end the game with the Demon tying run at second base. 

NSU plays its final three games of the season next weekend when it hosts Southeastern at the Demon Diamond.