FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (NSU) - After struggling for large stretches of Arkansas’ Wooo Pig Classic, the Northwestern State offense mustered a late charge to force extra innings Saturday against Nevada.
But the Wolf Pack supplied an eighth-inning RBI double to hand the Lady Demons a 4-3 loss.
After a 4-1 loss to Omaha on Saturday morning, NSU (8-11) ended the classic 0-5 after entering the weekend on a six-game winning streak.
“We played better (Saturday) as the day went along, and we started to get production up and down the lineup,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We understand what it takes to be successful at the plate, we just have to be more consistent with it.
“We did some good things in the circle, especially going at hitters. But we’re giving up too many hits in certain counts, and we’ll have to use the counts to our advantage more.”
NSU returns to Lady Demon Diamond to face No. 10 LSU on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in a game televised by Cox Sports.
Nevada 4, NSU 3 (8)
Sophomore Cayla Jones tied a career-high with four hits as she spearheaded a rally to force extra innings.
Down 3-1 in the sixth inning, a Jones single sparked an inning which yielded one run via a Bronte Rhoden RBI double to cut Nevada’s edge to 3-2.
With NSU needing a run to continue the game, junior Hayley Barbazon singled in E.C. Delafield to tie the game 3-3. Delafield led off with a single before being bunted over to second base.
Jones also made a diving defensive play at second base in Nevada’s part of the seventh inning to protect NSU’s lead with a runner on base.
“Cayla was at the big plate for us, and then she made an awesome defensive play,” Pickett said. “We had other batters like Barbazon and Delafield get some clutch hits for us, too.”
NSU pitcher Bronte Rhoden (4-1) battled admirably against a Nevada offense that scored 20 runs in three previous tournament games and 46 runs in their previous six games.
The Wolf Pack (8-6) broke through with an eight-inning RBI double from Kenzi Goins. Both teams started with a runner on second base in the eighth inning. Goins went 3-for-4 with one run scored and an RBI.
Rhoden pitched a career-high 7 1/3 innings with four runs allowed (two earned) on nine hits and three walks.
“Bronte pitched well against a Nevada team that had big athletes,” Pickett said. “That was a tough assignment, and she kept us in the game.”
Nevada reliever Julia Jensen picked up the win with a scoreless eighth inning, working around a Jones single to lead off the inning before an inning-ending double play.
Jones sparked NSU’s offense with an RBI single to score Barbazon in the first inning. Barbazon led off the frame with a double, her team-high fourth double of the season.
Jones singled four times in the game, joining Barbazon (2-for-4) as Lady Demons with multiple hits. Both NSU and Nevada had nine hits.
Nevada tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first with an unearned run. After a single by Sierra Mello, Sadaria McAlister singled and Mello scored on an error.
The Wolf Pack grabbed a 2-1 edge with a Haley Burda RBI single. Nevada led off the inning with a Goins double and a Danielle Lew walk.
Rhoden avoided further damage when induced two ground outs with runners on second and third base.
Rhoden also avoided a pair of two-out walks in the fifth inning by retiring Goins, who had two hits in her first two at-bats. She stranded eight Nevada base runners.
Omaha 4, NSU 1
Northwestern State didn’t have trouble getting runners on base in Saturday’s opening game, but the Lady Demons couldn’t deliver enough clutch hits in a 4-1 loss to Omaha in the Wooo Pig Classic.
NSU stranded 12 runners on base, including two in its final at-bat against the Mavericks (2-12).
Down 4-1, the Lady Demons made trouble in the seventh inning with a Cayla Jones walk and an E.C. Delafield double to put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out.
But Omaha pitcher Sydney Hampton (1-6) shut the door once more by recording the final two outs in her first win of the season.
“We got lots of runners on, we just couldn’t drive them in,” Pickett said. “We’ve got to develop more consistency in clutch situations and develop better approaches.”
Hampton skirted six hits, three walks and four hit batters to hold NSU to one run.
NSU’s run occurred in the sixth inning when Hayley Barbazon knocked a two-out single to slice Omaha’s lead to 4-1. Pinch-hitter Toni Hebert singled with one out to start the threat.
Before Barbazon’s RBI single, the Lady Demons were 0-for-13 with runners on base and ended 2-for-18, including 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. NSU stranded nine runners in the first five innings before three in the last two at-bats.
Omaha produced on its 10 hits, which included a pair of solo home runs.
The Mavericks got on the board first with a Jamie White solo home run. NSU pitcher Samantha Guile (2-6) worked quickly through the first two outs, but NSU fell behind first in the fifth consecutive game.
The Mavericks tacked on two third-inning runs to build its lead to 3-0.
White (4-for-4) struck again with a two-out, RBI single. Omaha made waves on the bases with singles by Sydney Schelkopf and Savannah Fisher. After the Mavericks loaded the bases to chase Guile and bring in reliever Mikayla Brown, Janae Cameron (2-for-3, two RBIs) singled in Omaha’s second run of the inning.
Guile allowed three runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Brown was relatively effective in relief, holding Omaha to one run on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
A Cameron solo home run in the sixth inning was Brown’s only blemish as Omaha led 4-0.
Omaha took advantage when it put runners on. The Mavs hit 5-for-9 with runners on base and 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position.