NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Ladyjacks were axed.
For a second consecutive week, the McNeese State softball team ended Stephen F. Austin’s season in postseason play. On Friday evening, the Cowgirls beat SFA 3-1 in an elimination game in the Nacogdoches Regional of the National Invitational Softball Championship at SFA Softball Field.
McNeese rebounded after being beaten 5-3 by Texas-Arlington earlier in the day.
McNeese (32-31) will have to beat UTA twice today to win the regional championship.
McNeese ........................ 3
Stephen F. Austin ............1
McNeese got another stellar performance in the circle from Caroline Settle (9-9). The sophomore pitched a complete-game six-hitter, allowing one run (earned), striking out one and walking one.
“I felt good,” Settle said. “My defense was outstanding today and were making a lot of plays behind me. That helped a lot with this kind of offense from SFA.”
McNeese broke the scoreless deadlock in the top of the fourth. Kaylee Lopez and Aubree Turbeville hit back-to-back one-out singles. A Toni Perrin sacrifice fly allowed both runners to advance a base, but an errant throw allowed pinch runner Taylor Edwards to score from third base for the game’s first run.
The Cowgirls got what turned out to be the winning hit in the top of the sixth when Alexandria Saldivar hit a two-run double that scored Perrin and Demi Boudreaux to make it 3-0.
SFA (36-23) got a run back in the bottom half of the sixth thanks to a Bryana Novegil RBI double, but that was the extent of the Ladyjacks’ damage.
The Ladyjacks got a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the seventh after of a two-out double from Margarita Corona, but Settle got the next batter to fly out and end the game.
McNeese head coach James Landreneau said he thought about taking Settle out after she got hit in the hand by a line drive.
“She wanted the ball, she wanted to finish up the game,” Landreneau said. “I was kind of worried after that ball hit her square in the hand. She’s a really tough kid.”
Texas-Arlington ........ 5
McNeese .................. 3
UTA (32-26) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a two-run single from Laura Curry. McNeese responded by scoring all three of its runs in the top half of the second with the help of four UTA errors. But a Cowgirls error helped propel UTA to a two-run third inning that proved to be the difference.
“Tough game, because I thought Saleen (Flores) did an excellent job of giving us opportunities,” Landreneau said. “It’s just that first inning gets away from us. And (UTA) is tough at the plate; they play the game real fast. We knew they liked to bunt and put some pressure on us and they were able to execute.”
UTA’s win over McNeese on Friday broke a four-game winning streak the Cowboys had over the Mavericks dating to 2012.