McNeese State's Marisa Taunton slides in safely at home as Nicholls State's Kayla Prater awaits the throw from center field. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, April 21, 2014 4:41 PMAs far as the records are concerned, a win is a win.
As far as McNeese State softball coach Mike Smith is concerned, not all wins are created equal.
The Cowgirls split a Saturday doubleheader against Nicholls State at Cowgirl Diamond, with a 5-4 loss followed by a 3-0 win to clinch the series.
The series victory helped McNeese maintain its spot atop the Southland Conference standings, but Smith said the weekend was a case of the Cowgirls doing “just enough to win.”
McNeese appeared to be in cruise control for the second game of the day, winning behind an efficient performance in the circle from Jamie Allred.
Marisa Taunton scored Ashley Modzelewski and Kim Kennedy on a two-run single two get the scoring going and Lauren Langner’s RBI double sent Taunton home to make it 3-0 in the second inning and the Cowgirls never looked back.
Taunton said McNeese did well to recoup for the series-deciding win after a loss in the first game of the day.
“You have to refocus quickly because in 30 minutes you have to play again,” she said. “Whether it was good, whether it was bad, we do the same thing if we win or lose. It hurt a little bit because we came out with more energy today, which is something we’ve been working on, so it was kind of a punch in the mouth. We did well and came back, though.”
McNeese also took a 3-0 lead after two innings in the first game of the day, but the Cowgirls’ pitching staff imploded during the sixth inning as they used three pitchers and gave up four runs.
The Cowgirls allowed six walks, four of which scored.
“(Nicholls) did the things they needed to do,” Smith said. “They took pitches. The umpire had a tight zone. They got people on base, put the ball in play; we didn’t make the plays and we walked in runs. It’s easy when you don’t have to swing the bat and they score runs.”
Nicholls pitcher Hannah Haydel retired 13 of 14 McNeese batters from the third to seventh innings. Alanna DiVittorio hit a solo home run to pull the Cowgirls within one run in the bottom of the seventh, but McNeese couldn’t complete the rally, falling 5-4.
Smith said the Cowgirls can’t allow inconsistent pitching and defensive mistakes to continue if they want to win when it counts.
“If we’re going to be successful past the regular season, we’re going to have to do those things right, otherwise we’re going to be the team watching on TV or on the computer,” Smith said. “We have all these grand goals and yet I feel like we’re trying to do just enough and it’s not going to happen. It’s frustrating.”