Cowgirls blank Bears in opener, close call plays part in game’s lone run

Rodrick Anderson

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask a question.

McNeese State head coach James Landreneau successfully appealed a call in the sixth inning of the Cowgirls’ Southland Conference opener Friday evening, and freshman catcher Chloe Gomez had the hit of the game for a 1-0 win over Central Arkansas.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Cori McCrary reached base on an error but was tagged at second base trying to get an extra bag. Landreneau questioned the call after assistant coach Shellie Landry said she saw the ball come out, and McCrary was ruled safe.

“It is nice to be on the other side of those calls,” Landreneau said. “I felt like this year we hadn’t been.

“Coach Landry saw the ball come out. You have to credit the crew for getting together and making the right call. The first base umpire had a really good view of the ball popping out.”

With two outs, Gomez hit a hard grounder through the left side of the infield, and McCrary scored from second base.

“Chloe Gomez today, our catcher, she is guts,” Landreneau said. “She (made) some big plays behind the plate. She handled herself well and had that big two-out knock right there.

“For a freshman to come into that situation and do her job ended up being the difference in the game. We were fortunate.”

McNeese (9-12, 1-0 SLC) extended its win streak to six games and will play a doubleheader against UCA (12-8, 0-1) at 1 p.m. today.

After walking the first batter she faced, McNeese’s Whitney Tate settled in and retired seven consecutive batters and 14 of the next 17 she faced. Tate pitched a complete game shutout with five strikeouts, one walk and allowed four hits.

“I thought Whitney Tate did an outstanding job today,” Landreneau said. “She was pounding the zone.

“That is the key for us. When we can be aggressive in the zone early and be able to get them off balance, we are going to have some success. She was a little tight on that first batter, and she settled in nicely. She started to challenge some hitters.”

McNeese was solid defensively, turning its nation-leading 20th double play to close out the top of the sixth inning and almost had another in the fourth inning. Center fielder McCrary made a diving catch on a ball hit in the gap by Tylar Vernon in the top of the second inning.

“I always say to win championships, you are going to have to play great defense,” Landreneau said. “The defense answered the call today.”

Vernon hit a two-out single in the top of the seventh inning, but McNeese first baseman Aaliyah Ortiz blocked down a hard grounder hit by Reagan Sperling for the final out. Ortiz was the Cowgirls’ top hitter, going 2-for-2 with a double.McNeese State’s Sara Geier makes contact during a Southland Conference game Friday night against Central Arkansas.

Rick Hickman / American PressMcNeese State starting pitcher Whitney Tate throws a shutout against Central Arkansas Friday night.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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