Cowgirls two wins from SLC regular-season title

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

With a magic number of two, McNeese State’s softball team hopes to end a 30-year drought of sorts.

The Cowgirls haven’t been the lone champions of the Southland Conference since the first one was handed out way back in 1983.

Not one player on this team was close to being born yet when that happened.

McNeese has won a tournament title and shared a regular-season championship in 1994 with Nicholls State, but it has been three

decades since it took the title outright.

Now, the Cowgirls are two wins this weekend at Nicholls State away from doing it again as they get set for the final series

of the year. Or at least they hope there are three games being played this weekend.

Heavy rains have left the field conditions at Nicholls a bit dicey. Times changed and the doubleheader set for today will

be played Sunday starting at 2 p.m. A single game will be at 7 p.m. today.

“We are crossing our fingers,” said head coach Mike Smith. “We may just play a doubleheader on Sunday, or some combination.

We don’t know until we get down there.”

None of that matters to the Cowgirls, who — if they sweep today — can claim the title right there.

“We have to worry about ourselves,” said Smith. “We can’t worry about what we can’t control.”

What the Cowgirls do control is their

own future. At 36-13, 17-5 SLC, McNeese is one game ahead of

Northwestern State and

two ahead of third-place Sam Houston State. Sam Houston State will

travel to Northwestern State this weekend for a three-game

series.

The Cowgirls own the tiebreaker with Northwestern State and Sam Houston owns the edge over McNeese. Nicholls (22-24, 12-11)

is playing for the sixth and final tournament spot.

“We are right where we want to be,” Smith said. “We control our own destiny and that is what we have talked about all season.

We like being in this position.”

The No. 1 seed in the Southland tournament is the big prize.

“It is great that we have meaningful games leading into the tournament,” Smith said. “That will help us keep our edge.”

The Cowgirls are also playing for a school record for wins in a season. A three-game sweep would pass the win mark set by

the 2010 club at 38, but this team isn’t worried about that.

“If we play our game the numbers will take care of themselves,” Smith said. “We are really excited to be playing for a championship. This was the first team goal we set. We want to win the regular-season

conference championship then take the tournament and make an NCAA regional.

“This, we hope, is the first step.”

Despite the conditions, McNeese hopes that step finishes on solid ground.