Tough lesson learned in opener for Cowgirls softball

Published 12:48 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

James Landreneau loves to schedule tough opponents.

The McNeese State softball head coach believes it both tests and teaches his players.

It has worked well in the past.

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Thursday night Landreneau’s team opened the new season with high hopes and against a solid foe from a Power 5 conference. And he got both a test and teaching moments for his Cowgirls.

McNeese fell 5-2 to the University of California, an NCAA Tournament team that won 35 games last season. It was a tough opening test for the Cowgirls, who won a record 47 games a year ago.

“They are a good team that can swing the bat,” Landreneau said of the Bears.

Three Cal players hit homers to lead the Bears’ attack. Lagi Quiroga, Mika Lee, and Elon Butler provided the power.

But McNeese matched some of that when Corine Poncho and Emily Phillips blasted back-to-back solo shots with two out in the first to tie the game.

“We got two big swings,” said Landreneau. “It was good to see us respond right there.”

However, the lesson Landreneau likes for his team to learn early also came up as a pair of miscues put McNeese behind.

“We got to play a little cleaner and put more balls in play,” said Landreneau. “You saw what happens when you turn the lineup over. You give their big hitters more at-bats.”

The Cowgirls had their chances late, putting the first two runners on base in both the fifth and sixth but could not get the big hit either time.

McNeese will get 13 more chances to play at home before hitting the road, starting Friday with the Cowgirl Classic against New Mexico. The tournament is a chance to get some solid time on the diamond.

Landreneau said he is looking for improved play moving forward.

“I know we are going to fight,” he said. “You want to see us play better.”