THIBODAUX, La. – The Nicholls State University softball team picked up its third sweep of the season to clinch its second consecutive berth into the Southland Conference Tournament as the Colonels defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 3-1 and 9-4, Saturday at the Colonel Softball Complex.
The three-game series sweep improved the Colonels’ record to 33-17 overall and 17-7 in the Southland. Nicholls will enter the postseason as the No. 2 or 3 seed, depending on the outcome of next weekend’s finale at Lamar.
Game 1 – Nicholls 3, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1
Senior Jackie Johnson had an impressive showing in her final game at The Plex, tossing 6.2 innings and allowed just three hits as the Colonels clinched the series with a 3-1 victory.
Johnson (17-10) fanned three batters in the victory, giving her 335 for her career which ranks sixth all-time in team history. The lone run she allowed was on a solo home run in the seventh inning.
Nicholls had five hits in the win, led by senior Haley Stevenson with a double and two RBIs. Her two-base knock came in the second inning, driving home pinch-runner Maegen Ellis for a 1-0 lead.
The Colonels did not score again until the fifth and sixth innings, with Kasey Frederick making the count 2-0 on a base hit to left field. The final run for the Colonels came on a sacrifice fly by Stevenson.
Candice Hadd prevented the shutout by sending the first pitch she saw over the left field wall to start the seventh. After recording two outs, Johnson left the game and fellow senior Taylor Hastings came in to pick up the save after forcing a groundout to end the game.
Game 2 – Nicholls 9, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4
The Colonels cranked out 13 hits, which included a two-run homer by Kasey Frederick in the first inning, to sweep the Islanders with a 9-4 victory.
Six players had multi-hit games, highlighted by freshman Samantha Mracich with two hits and three RBIs. Mracich not only continued to swing a hot bat, but she improved to 3-0 in the circle after tossing four innings. She allowed just one earned run in the start as Nicholls committed five errors on the day.
Mracich capped a three-run inning in the first with a run-scoring single to left. Senior Brooke Morris singled with one out and Frederick followed with her seventh home run of the season to make it 2-0. Amanda Gianelloni doubled on the next play, setting up Mracich’s single.
After Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (11-32, 3-17 SLC) got one back in the second, Nicholls answered with two more runs in the bottom half. Sydney Bourg found a gap in center for a triple to drive in one and then came home on an error by the catcher. The Islanders added a run in the third on a double by Mackinzee Griebel.
Things got interesting in the fifth as three Colonel errors led to two runs for the visitors. After two errors to lead off the inning, Megan Landry came into the game to pitch to try to limit the damage but a third error allowed two runs to come home on the play. The five errors were a season high for Nicholls, which headed into the series leading the Southland in fielding percentage.
But Landry settled in and retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts. She finished with five strikeouts in 3.0 innings and allowed just two hits to pick up her league-best sixth save of the season.
The Colonels responded once again at the plate, scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth to make the final, 9-4. Mracich and Jessica Taylor drove in runs in the fifth, and a wild pitch and a Mracich RBI groundout plated the final two runs in the sixth.
The Colonels’ 1-4 hitters each had two hits with Bourg, Morris, Frederick and Gianelloni all having multi-hit games. Brooklyn Devine also finished 2-for-3 at the plate and scored a run.
Nicholls will head to Beaumont, Texas to take on the Lamar University Cardinals next weekend in the regular season finale. Nicholls holds a 1.0 lead over LU for the No. 2 seed. For the latest news on Colonel softball, follow the team on Twitter @Nicholls_SB.