RUSTON – It was a too-little, too-late sort of Saturday on the diamond as the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters fell 4-3 to Marshall in the third and final game of the three-game Conference series at the Lady Techster Softball Complex.
Tech (16-9, 2-1 C-USA) won its sixth straight Conference USA regular season series dating back to last season, although Charlotte (16-10, 1-2 C-USA) salvaged the third and final game, holding off a late inning rally by the Lady Techsters.
After spotting the 49ers a four-run lead, LA Tech made it interesting late. Charlotte starter Haley Wiseman pitched 4.2 innings of no-hit softball until Tech senior Jessica Ball broke up the no-no with a two-out line drive single to left field in the bottom of the fifth. Ball was stranded on second, but the hit awoke the Louisiana Tech bats.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Morgan Turkoly drove a ball to the right centerfield gap for a one-out triple. Taria Page followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Turkoly with the first run of the game for Tech.
Pauline Tufi then followed with her fifth home run of the season, crushing the first pitch she saw from Wiseman deep over the left field fence, cutting the Charlotte lead to 4-2.
Tech opened the bottom of the seventh with three straight base runners reaching. Katie Smith reached on an error by Charlotte shortstop Haley Pace and then advanced to second a single by pinch hitter Ali Galaz to centerfield. Ball then singled up the middle, scoring Smith from second and bringing Tech to within 4-3.
With no outs and runners on first and second, Wiseman closed the door, retiring the next three batters in order to seal the win for Charlotte.
Bailey Allen (4-2) took the loss for Tech in the circle, allowing three runs – only one earned – on four hits in 2.2 innings of action. Jenny Chapman pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings of work while Preslee Gallaway tossed the final 2.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits.
Allen allowed a solo home run to Meredith Harris in the second inning and a two-out, two-run home run to Haley Pace in the third. Pace’s home run came after a throwing error that allowed the 49ers inning at the plate to continue – and ultimately proved very costly for LA Tech. Pace drove a 1-2 pitch high and deep over the LF wall for the home run and a 3-0 Charlotte lead.
The 49ers added an insurance run in the fifth inning off of Gallaway on a two-out, RBI single by Harris through the right side, scoring Pace from third base.
Offensively, Tech managed only five hits in the game. Ball (2-3, RBI), Tufi (1-3, HR, run, RBI), Turkoly (1-3, 3B, run), Smith (run), Page (RBI), Charters (SB) and Galaz (1-1) all produced at the plate.
Tech returns to action Wednesday when its travels to Northwestern State for a 6 p.m. contest.