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(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Cowgirls try to keep momentum on the road at HBU

Last Modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 11:31 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

For the third time in a week McNeese State’s hopes of pulling off another big upset in softball came up all wet.

Wednesday the Cowgirls were supposed to play No. 6 Texas in Austin. It was a doubleheader that had been called off by rain twice the week before.

Instead, expected rains forced McNeese to stay home and get ready for a three-game Southland Conference series at Houston Baptist, which starts Saturday. HBU (13-16, 6-9 SLC) has lost its last four games.

“I guess it just wasn’t in the cards,” said McNeese head coach Mike Smith, who is one win from the 700th in his 15-year career. “We are talking about playing over there still, but with both our schedules coming down the stretch, it is going to be tough.”

Texas is the type of team Smith loves to play. He wants his club to compete against the nation’s best and get the exposure the TV games would have brought, plus the experience.

“If we are able to win our conference tournament and get to an NCAA regional, I want to use games like at Texas to get our girls used to those types of surroundings,” said Smith.

Instead, the Cowgirls will have to turn their attention back on an SLC regular-season race they control.

At 29-10, 10-3, the Cowgirls are in first place by 112 games over Northwestern State and two over Sam Houston State.

McNeese owns the tiebreaker over the Demons with 12 games left in the regular season. The Cowgirls have three games at Sam Houston.

“We are in charge of our own situation,” said Smith, whose team will finish with three of its last four series on the road. “If we go out and win the games we are supposed to win and play the way we are capable of playing we stand a good chance at a championship.

“I’ll take our chances against anybody right now.”

The Cowgirls are powered by junior outfielder Alanna DiVittorio (.383) and freshman Emily Vincent (.379, 9 HRs, 38 RBIs).

Senior pitcher Meagan Bond (14-4, 1.19 ERA) has won 12 of her last 14 games. She has struck out 134 in 112 innings and is 52 strikeouts away from becoming the school’s all-time leader.

Freshman pitcher Jamie Allred (13-3, 1.55) has won seven of her last eight games and has 111 strikeouts in 10813 innings.

However, Smith and his team are a bit worried about the loss in momentum. The Cowgirls have played three games since Easter, winning two of those.

“You can’t control the weather but it is never good to stop and start,” Smith said. “You want to get into a rhythm and stay in a rhythm. This, not knowing when we will be outside then having to come inside, is hard to deal with.

“We just have to understand we need to get our work in, stay focused and get our jobs done.”

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