Poullard HR completes sweep

Warren Arceneaux

Freshman Jil Poullard capped her big weekend in style, hitting a towering, two-run home run to right field to invoke the mercy rule in McNeese State’s 8-0, six-inning win over Abilene Christian in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader.

The win gave McNeese (22-21, 12-6 SLC) a sweep of the three-game Southland Conference series, extending the Wildcats’ (7-30, 3-15) losing streak to 11 games. The Cowgirls outscored ACU 22-1 in the series.

Poullard reached base in five of her eight plate appearances Saturday, driving in three runs and scoring three runs.

In Game 2, the Moss Bluff native hit an infield single and scored in the first inning and walked with the bases loaded in the fourth.

“For me, the best at-bat she had was the walk,” said Cowgirls head coach James Landreneau. “There were some tough pitches she laid off and she didn’t get herself out. When she doesn’t, she is tough to get out. She is maturing and has a lot of work to do, but she has been working her butt off to get where she is.”

The Cowgirls scored two in the first inning. Rosepine’s Haylee Brinlee walked with the bases loaded to force in Poullard. Alayis Seneca hit a fielder’s choice grounder to score Toni Perrin.

McNeese doubled the lead in the fourth inning. Caleigh Cross doubled to score Seneca. Poullard walked with the bases loaded to force in Tiffany Steczo.

McNeese added two more in the fifth. With two outs, Seneca tripled and Steczo followed with a double off the right-field wall. After a Cross walk, Steczo scored on the back end of a double steal.

Cross and Steczo were substitutions who made an impact on both ends. Cross made an unassisted out at second to start a double play and Steczo threw out a runner at second to end another.

Landreneau said Steczo, who has made three starts in 43 games, sets the tone for the team with her attitude and work ethic.

“(Former McNeese and Louisiana-Lafayette head baseball coach Tony Robichaux) used to always talk about being willing to work while you wait,” he said. “She never stops working. She prepares every day like she is starting every game. She gets her opportunity, she gets two hits and made a big play, getting a back-door pickoff at third base.

“You talk about the epitome of being a good teammate and getting an opportunity and making the most of it, she did that today. If you ask anybody in that locker room about Tiffany, they will tell you she is prepared every single day and her effort is outstanding.”

Ashley Vallejo (4-6) picked up the win, allowing six hits. McNeese turned three double plays in the game and five in the doubleheader.

Game 1

McNeese 7

Abilene Christian 1

Perrin singled in a run and Kaylee Lopez hit a two-run double in the third inning for McNeese.

The Cowgirls added a run in the fourth on a Cori McCrary RBI single and scored three more in the sixth, highlighted by a Steczo RBI squeeze bunt that scored two runs.

Perrin, Lopez and Seneca each had two hits for McNeese.

Donelle Johnson hit a homer in the first inning for the Wildcats. Jenna Edwards (6-1) earned the win for McNeese.””

McNeese State’s Tiffany Steczo slides in safely with the steal of second base as Abilene Christian’s Val Rudd applies the late tag during a Southland Conference doubleheader Saturday at Cowgirl Diamond.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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