After starting the season at home with a successful 4-1 weekend, the McNeese State softball team will get on the road to play five games in four days, all in the state of Texas.
The first game will be tonight when the Cowgirls play Texas A&M at Davis Diamond in College Station. On Friday, McNeese will make the short trip to Conroe for the Scrap Yard Tournament, beginning Saturday afternoon.
The Cowgirls hope to keep up their strong performances from last weekend, when they outscored opponents 36-4. The pitching was particularly strong for almost the entire weekend, amassing a 0.93 earned run average, striking out 28 batters, walking four, and allowing 12 hits.
"I thought our pitching staff did an outstanding job," McNeese head coach James Landreneau said. "They really commanded their zone. I think the biggest thing, we had (30 innings) of work and allowed four walks. To me, that's the biggest thing. Anytime you can go in and establish a strike zone and let your defense work behind you, you're going to be effective."
Landreneau mentioned being frustrated with hitting, only to look at the statistics to see that his team batted .339 for the weekend. He said he felt a similar frustration on the basepaths, but the stats revealed that the Cowgirls were 17 of 21 in stolen bases. The 17 stolen bases rank second in the nation, one behind Southland Conference foe Southeastern Louisiana.
However, the Cowgirls struggled early in games before adjusting and hitting better as games wore on.
Tonight's opponent, Texas A&M, is coming off a weekend that saw the Aggies alternate wins and losses en route to a 3-2 record in the Aggie Classic. Their most recent game was a 10-6 win over Abilene Christian on Sunday.
TAMU played Texas-Arlington three times last weekend, winning once with a combined eight runs scored. Against ACU, the Aggies outscored the Wildcats 17-7 in two wins.
In the Scrap Yard Tournament, McNeese will play four games against three teams: South Dakota State, Alabama-Birmingham (twice), and SLC opponent Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a nonconference matchup.
SDSU went 2-2 last weekend, beating DePaul and Northern Iowa but losing to Murray State and Drake. Last season, the Jackrabbits won 37 games and went to the National Invitation Softball Championship, like McNeese did.
UAB almost pulled off the upset of the season on the first weekend. The Blazers (4-1) allowed three runs or fewer in all four of their wins. Their lone loss came to Washington, the top-ranked team in the country in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. The Blazers fell behind 6-0 after one inning but came back to tie the score at seven in the top of the sixth only to see Washington get a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the seventh.
McNeese will wrap up the weekend against TAMU-CC and first-year head coach in Kristen Zaleski. The Islanders went 0-4 on their opening weekend at the Texas Tournament in Austin, scoring seven runs in their four games.
"That's what this time of year does for you," Landreneau said. "It stresses you mentally, physically. There's a lot of games."