Last Modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 7:04 PM
The way things have been going for the McNeese State softball team recently, it feels like only Mother Nature can slow the Cowgirls down.
It did on Saturday afternoon, but not before the Cowgirls knocked off Southeastern Louisiana 5-3 in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader at Cowgirl Diamond.
Game 2 was suspended by rain in the bottom of the first with the Lions holding a 1-0 lead, and will be resumed at 1 p.m. today. McNeese had the bases loaded with one out when the umpires made the decision to stop the game.
The Game 1 win was McNeese’s 12th in a row.
“What’s nice is Game 1 was prototypical of our first 20-something games,” said McNeese coach Mike Smith. “That’s the reason I play the schedule I do, to get us ready for those kind of games. Now when it comes to crunch time, we’re battle-tested and ready to go.”
McNeese (25-7, 6-0 Southland) owns a 2.5-game conference lead on the Lions (17-9, 4-3), their nearest pursuer.
Like any team on a hot streak, McNeese got contributions from throughout the lineup. The biggest hit came from an unexpected spot as designated player Marissa Koetting socked a two-run homer over the center-field wall to give the Cowgirls a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
Koetting had been pulled from the starting lineup due to a sub-.200 batting average, but made Smith’s decision to play her on Saturday pay off.
“We sat her because she’s struggling, but she’s had a really good two weeks of practice,” Smith said. “We haven’t found a consistent DP since we moved Emily Vincent to first base. We saw Marissa’s been swinging a good bat (in practice), so let’s give her a shot.”
SLU cut the margin to 4-3 on Kelsey Nichols’ RBI triple in the fifth, but the Cowgirls added an insurance run without the benefit of a hit in the sixth when Koetting scored from third on a fielding error by Lions shortstop Kayla Elswick.
“My gray hairs have come from a lot of (close) ballgames,” Smith said. “But it teaches us a little bit of character and finds out what we’re made of. If we do make it to a regional, I’m sure we’ll get a lot of ballgames like that.”
Jamie Allred (12-2) earned the win for McNeese, allowing one earned run and striking out nine in six innings. Meagan Bond picked up her second save with a 1-2-3 seventh.