No mistakes: It takes pitching, defense to win
Much like it did at the beginning of the school year, when recovering from a pair of hurricanes, the final stage of the McNeese State softball season began this week with the Cowgirls working around another weather incident, this time flash floods that ravaged the Lake Area on Monday.
The Cowgirls (34-24) are set to play in the Baton Rouge Regional of the NCAA Tournament from Friday – Sunday. The floods mandated an altered schedule, with the team leaving Lake Charles early in hopes of being able to get some on-field work in before taking the field against LSU (32-19) at 3 p.m. Friday.
“We came to Baton Rouge Tuesday night and were able to find a local high school that allowed us to hit and we had a team practice scheduled Wednesday at a high school,” said Cowgirls head coach James Landreneau.
“Obviously Monday we were unable to get any work in, but we were fortunate to get an hour in (Tuesday) and were scheduled to have a two-hour practice (Wednesday),” he said.
The Cowgirls are looking to continue their late-season momentum. They enter on a five-game winning streak and were undefeated in four games at last week’s Southland Conference Tournament in Hammond.
Leading the way are the pitching tandem of Jenna Edwards (9-2, 2.45 ERA) and Whitney Tate (13-7, 2.67), who combined to win all four tournament games last week. The duo allowed four earned runs in 26 innings and combined on a four-hit shutout in the championship game, a 1-0 win over Central Arkansas.
“They are inducing a lot of weak contact,” Landreneau said. “They are finding a way to pitch to contact and are getting some weak outs. Tate has tremendous command of the strike zone right now and is pitching with confidence. Edwards is able to move the ball around enough to induce weak contact. That is the key.
“They are attacking the strike zone, not giving away free passes and allowing the defense to play behind them. That’s when the team is best and that’s when each of them is at their best.”
Landreneau said the Cowgirls will have to avoid helping opponents with walks and errors this weekend.
“You have to play mistake-free softball,” he said. “You have to play clean. You want to minimize the amount of times you turn their lineup over. That is a key for us, to keep their lineups in control and then find a way to scrape some runs.
“We are going to have to manufacture runs, we know that going in. It comes down to pitching well and playing great defense. If we can do those things, we give ourselves a swinging chance. When you get to this level of softball, playing this level of competition, you just can’t make mistakes.”
The NCAA Softball Regional at LSU’s Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Friday through Saturday, will be at 100 percent capacity after the NCAA’s Wednesday announcement.
General admission all-session ticket books for the Tiger Terrace and outfield bleachers are available at LSUtix.net and at the LSU Ticket Office.
If available, single-session tickets will go on sale today.
Starting pitcher Whitney Tate during a game at Cowgirl Diamond March 24, 2021.
McNeese Cowgirl Jenna Edwards (1) throws a pitch against Northwestern State during a Southland Conference matchup at Cowgirl Diamond May 1, 2021.