Poncho, Phillips homer in Cowgirl win

Published 5:18 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

After battling college softball’s elite for a couple of games, the Cowgirls returned to picking on somebody their own size Sunday.

And back to winning games.

Fueled by back-to-back home runs by Corine Poncho and Emily Phillips in the fifth, McNeese State knocked off Southland Conference foe Lamar 4-2 at Cowgirl Diamond.

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The game ended the Cowgirl Challenge, which saw McNeese (6-4) split their four games over the weekend. Their losses came on Friday and Saturday to No. 1 Oklahoma, as the Sooners ran their record win streak to 62 straight games when they beat Central Arkansas in the first game Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Cowgirls, whose four losses have come at the hands of Power 5 opponents, three in the Top 25, bounced back Sunday with a solid showing. 

“We fought all weekend,” said McNeese head coach James Landreneau. “We never felt like we were out of those games. A fairly positive weekend.”

Sophomore left-hander Ryann Schexnayder improved to 2-0 for McNeese with 4⅔, 5-hit performance. Lamar (3-5) touched her up for a run in the top of the fifth on Jayne Sepulveda’s RBI single to right. It was Schexnayder’s first career start.

“Ryann came out and attacked the zone,” said Landreneau. “She made the most of her first start.:

Lindsay Davis relieved her to finish the game, allowing one run and getting out of a jam by getting Kalyn Xayaseng to tap out with the tying runners on base. It was Davis’ first save of the year.

As for the offense, Phillips picked up a pair of RBIs staring in the third. Her sacrifice fly to right scored Crislyne Moreno from third with the game’s first run. 

Poncho used her legs to give the Cowgirls a 2-0 lead when she raced home from second on a grounder by first that Rylie Bouvier beat out for a hit. Poncho bet the throw home with a head-first slide.

McNeese used its power in the fifth when Poncho and Phillips went back-to-back for the second time this season. Poncho started the power play with his sixth of the early season, a long blast to left center.

“I was just looking for a good pitch and put a good swing on it,” said Phillips. “I like how we controlled ourselves and played our game.”

Poncho’s homer was her second hit of the game as she raised her average to .500 (11-22). The sophomore slugger also walked for the sixth time, putting her on base 17 times in 10 games.

Phillips followed with second of the season, a towering shot into the wind that hit off the scoreboard in left. 

Lamar starting pitcher Emma Wardlaw lasted three innings, giving up the first two Cowgirl runs as her record fell to 1-2. 

McNeese will be back in action Wednesday night when they take on Boise State in Lake Charles. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.