Cowgirls still kicking

Published 6:44 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024


The Cowgirls continue to live on the edge at the Southland Conference Tournament.

Facing elimination for the second straight day, McNeese State rallied from two runs down to defeat Nicholls 4-3 in eight innings Thursday at North Oaks Park in Hammond.

Email newsletter signup

Freshman catcher Bella Perez’s two-out triple to right-center scored fellow rookie Alexis Dibbley with the winning run. Dibbley had started the rally in the top of the eighth with her third hit of the day, a one-out single to left.

Senior ace Shaelyn Sanders, the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, worked a perfect bottom of the inning as McNeese continued its run at a record fourth straight tournament title. 

Top-seeded McNeese played a late game against No. 4 Incarnate Word with the winner advancing to the championship game against No. 2 Southeastern today. The Lady Lions are a win away from their first-ever SLC title and NCAA Tournament berth.

UIW, which lost earlier Thursday to SLU, 6-1, beat McNeese 3-2 Wednesday, handing the Cowgirls their first tournament defeat in five years.

McNeese improved to 40-19 with the victory, claiming its program-record third straight 40-win season and fifth in the seven full years under head coach James Landreneau. The 2020 campaign ended early due to COVID.

“Hats off to our kids,” said Landreneau. “We have to keep going.”

Sanders went the distance, allowing just six hits while striking out five. She improved to 20-10 with the victory. She finished throwing 115 pitches.

“She always wants the ball and loves to compete,” Landreneau said of his ace. “An outstanding performance. You saw why she is the Pitcher of the Year.”

Nicholls was able to get to Sanders early, however, scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Alexa Poche’s triple drove Abby Anderson in from first to give the Colonels the lead. Poche scored moments later on a ground out to second. 

McNeese answered on Dibbley’s sixth home run of the season to cut the lead in half in the second. Nicholls added a run in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a walk with the bases loaded, giving the Colonels a 3-1 advantage.

McNeese tied the game in the fifth with a pair of runs. Kelsey Gaspard’s pinch-hit double down the line in left scored one and Brilee Ford tied the game scoring on a ground out moments later.

That’s where things stayed until the eighth.

McNeese is looking for its 10th SLC Tournament title, the most in league history. It would also be Landreneau’s sixth as the head coach.