Lady Demons hold off Grambling to win home opener

Bailie Ragsdale drove in a run and scored the other in NSU's 2-1 win over Grambling.
Bailie Ragsdale drove in a run and scored the other in NSU's 2-1 win over Grambling.(Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services)
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:11 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU) - Northwestern State found itself in a battle on Wednesday night with Grambling that came down to the final inning and were able to come away with a 2-1 win.

On a night where the Lady Demons (7-3) hit the ball hard but only managed to produce two runs and were forced to cling to the one-run lead over the final two innings with the Lady Tigers (5-6) threatening to take the lead in both the fifth and sixth inning with the tying run reaching third in each inning.

Maggie Darr and Bronte Rhoden were able to work their way out of the jams in each inning to preserve the lead, stranding three runners in scoring position before Rhoden was able to slam the door for her second save of the season in the seventh.

“We weren’t that sharp tonight in the circle or at the plate, but we were able to play some pretty good defense for the most part and I think that’s what saved us,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “They outplayed us tonight and we were lucky to win that game. We’ve got to understand and establish an identity for our team and what we’re going to be about this year. It’s not our physical ability right now, we’ve got to get stronger mentally and more discipline with how we’re approaching the game.”

NSU did not get its first hit until the third inning when Taylor Williams started the frame with a single to short. The Demons used the small ball approach that worked throughout the past weekend to advance her to second and into scoring position.

Bailie Ragsdale shot a ball back up the middle to score the game’s first run and give NSU the lead. Laney Roos followed with a base hit of her own to put Ragsdale at third for the RBI groundout from Makenzie Chaffin that made it a 2-0 game.

The Demons hit the ball hard all night long including multiple line drives right at infielders. Nani Wingers and Williams each tattooed balls that were caught by the third baseman that could have easily gone for doubles had they been anywhere else.

Marshall started the fourth with a double to center, but a clean defensive play from the Tigers erased a potential third run from the bases on a 1-3-5 double play. Lexie Roos got the Demons’ only other hit after that point with a base hit to center in the bottom of the fifth.

“We had several people have some good at-bats and put some good swings on the ball, but it seemed like every time we got any kind of momentum at all we didn’t use the count leverage to our favor,” Pickett said. “That’s something we’ve been really working on since that first weekend and our kids are experienced enough to know to have better at-bats than that and good enough hitters to do it.”

The Tigers got runners to scoring position in four straight innings from the third through the sixth, but thanks to some clutch outs by the NSU pitching staff and defense, they were only able to produce one run.

The one defensive miscue of the night for the Demons led to Grambling’s only run of the game. On what was a bang-bang play at first on an attempted sacrifice bunt, the throw from the plate drew Marshall off the bag and allowed the runners to advance to second and third base with one out.

The Tigers brought in a run on a groundout to short but would leave the tying run at third on a fly out to center. The first two batters of the sixth reached base on a base hit and hit by pitch, but Rhoden was able to leave them sitting at second and third after a sac bunt, strikeout and pop up to center.

She closed the game with three straight outs in the seventh to pick up her second save of the season. Maggie Darr (4-2) was credited with the win after going 2.0 innings in relief of starter Kenzie Seely who allowed two hits in the no-decision.