Softball — Brown pitches gem as Northwestern State tops Houston Baptist in extras

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HOUSTON, Texas – Northwestern State softball couldn’t have asked for a better time to get its first extra-inning win of the season.

After losing twice to Houston Baptist on Friday and with positioning at stake in the Southland Conference Tournament, NSU gritted out a 2-1 win in 10 innings.

The Lady Demons (21-29-1, 11-13 SLC) improved to 1-5 in extra innings games, which included losses against then-No. 15 Baylor and SLC leaders McNeese and Abilene Christian.

Sophomore pitcher Mikayla Brown tossed a marathon gem while senior Kellye Kincannon knocked in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning.

Kincannon’s line-drive single ricocheted off HBU first baseman Megan Hiers’ glove to score Sidney Salmans from third base.

“I was just trying to stay composed and make adjustments the whole game,” said Kincannon, who hit into double plays her first two at bats before smoking a ball to the second baseman in her third at bat. “(Friday) didn’t go as planned, but we talked about it as a team, and we stressed that we needed this win as a team.

“Every single person contributed to that. A few people got emotional, and everybody was into it today. That was huge, and we want to carry that togetherness into next weekend.”

Salmans (3-for-5), who started the inning on second base per the international tie-breaker rule, advanced to third base on a Hailee Rhodes ground out.

The 10th-inning run supported Brown (14-12), who dominated HBU through five innings and stranded three runners over the final five innings.

Brown held HBU to a bunt single until the sixth inning, when HBU scored their lone run on a two-out Nicole Shedd single. NSU centerfielder Sidney Salmans scooped the single and threw home to catch runner Heidi Jaquez trying to score.

The Deville native stranded two other runners in scoring position before a game-ending double play involving Rhodes, Brittney Jones and Jordan Rains.

Brown allowed one run on five hits and walk in 10 innings, striking out two.

“We jammed them a lot, and we kept throwing it inside, and they weren’t able to get around on it,” said Brown, who recorded 12 of her first 15 outs in the air and 20 of 30 total outs. “I was just off (Friday) – everybody has an off day.

“But I knew I was coming back today and knew I had to get it done.”

Brown outdueled Emily Mueller (8-14), Friday’s game one winner who allowed two unearned runs in Saturday’s loss. Mueller surrendered nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Sophomore pinch hitter Kaylee Isenburg delivered NSU’s regulation run in the fifth inning when she singled in pinch runner Kayla Roquemore. NSU manufactured the run with two outs as Jones drew a walk and Hayley Barbazon (2-for-4) reached on one of two HBU errors.

Isenburg had three RBIs in two pinch-hit at-bats this series.

HBU leadoff hitter Jaquez produced three of the Huskies’ five hits.

NSU (11-13 SLC) remains in a tie for sixth place, this time with Sam Houston State (11-13 SLC), who was swept by fourth-place Southeastern (12-12 SLC).

Central Arkansas (12-12 SLC), who travels to Natchitoches for the final regular season series this weekend, moved into a tie for fourth place after the Bears took two of three from Abilene Christian.

Stephen F. Austin (9-12 SLC) sits in eighth place after being swept by McNeese (21-3), who clinched the regular season title.

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