THIBODAUX, La. – The Nicholls State University softball team fell to 3.0 games back of McNeese after the Cowgirls bounced back from last night’s setback to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader against the Colonels, winning 8-4 and 7-4 at the Colonel Softball Complex.
The two losses drops the Colonels to 27-15 overall and 13-5 in the Southland. It was also the first league series the Colonels dropped since McNeese (30-14, 16-2) last season, and the losses put Nicholls at 11-2 at home on the season.
Game 1 – McNeese 8, Nicholls 4
Nicholls reached double figures in hits for the sixth time this season, but McNeese used three home runs and 13 hits to hand the Colonels their first loss at home.
After picking up the win last night, Jackie Johnson (14-8) was tagged with the loss, lasting 2.2 innings with four runs on seven hits and walked three. Megan Landry also surrendered four runs, pitching 4.1 innings of relief.
The Colonels had three players rack up multi-hit games as Samantha Mracich, Amanda Gianelloni and Sydney Bourg each had two hits.
McNeese struck first with one of their three homers as Hailey Drew sent out a shot to left center in the first. The Colonels answered with two in the second when Brooklyn Devine and Mracich each drove in a run on infield singles.
But McNeese used the long ball to retake the lead, getting a solo homer by Erika Piancastelli and a two-run blast from Carleigh Chaumont to go up 4-2 in the third. The Colonels answered with a run-scoring single by Kimmie Rodriguez in the bottom half, but would not get any closer the rest of the way.
The Cowgirls plated three more in the fourth and one in the fifth before Sydney Bourg grounded out for a run to make the final.
Rachel Smith bounced back from last night’s loss to earn the win for McNeese, tossing 4.1 innings of relief and allowed just two hits.
Game 2 – McNeese 7, Nicholls 4
The Colonels jumped out to a 3-0 lead over McNeese in the second inning before the Cowgirls used a five-run fourth to take the series with a 7-4 victory.
Both teams had nine hits, but the Cowgirls’ two home runs turned out to the the difference in the game. Taylor Schmidt’s two-run blast capped the big inning for the visitors and Piancastelli tacked on the final run of the game with a solo shot in the seventh.
Mracich had another two-hit performance for the Colonels, raising her batting average to .399. Veronica Villafranco also had two hits in the game.
Landry (11-7) took the loss for the Colonels with seven earned runs on nine hits in a complete-game effort. She finished with three strikeouts and walked one.
Nicholls cranked out five hits in the second to grab the early lead. The Colonels had three infield hits to start the inning, scoring the first run on a wild throw. Haley Stevenson then delivered a base hit to center to drive in a run, and the Colonels added one more on a double steal. Nicholls loaded the bases after a Mracich infield single, but Baylee Corbello (6-3) got Kasey Frederick to strike out to limit the damage.
Landry held McNeese in check through the first three innings, but Piancastelli started the rally for McNeese with a run-scoring double in the fourth. Landry then threw the ball away on a sac bunt to allow another run to score, and the Cowgirls tied the game on a sacrifice fly. The next batter, Schmidt, crushed a ball down the left field line to make the score 5-3 McNeese.
The Colonels pulled to within one after scoring in the sixth, but the potential game-tying run was denied at the plate. Jessica Taylor’s pinch-hit double put runners in scoring position and with two down, Devine reached on an infield single to make the score 5-4. But on the play, Haley Stevenson tried to score from second and was thrown out at home.
McNeese answered immediately with two runs in the seventh to make the final. The Colonels put a base runner on via an error in the bottom half with one out, but Corbello retired the next two to finish her complete game.
The Colonels will hit the road for six games during spring break. Nicholls will play two at Mississippi Valley State Tuesday night, before heading to Ruston, Louisiana to take on LA Tech. The Colonels will then play Northwestern State over the weekend in a three-game series.