Softball — Northwestern State’s Brown sets career high in win as team splits Saturday

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NORMAN, Oklahoma – Northwestern State pitcher Mikayla Brown set a career-high in strikeouts for the second straight day to lift the Lady Demons to a 7-3 win against Evansville on Saturday morning.

Brown (3-4) punched out nine batters one day after striking out eight against Western Kentucky on Friday.

Early offense Saturday morning was enough against Evansville, but Western Kentucky erased a seven-run deficit to win 10-8 on Saturday afternoon.

NSU (9-10-1) went 2-1 in bracket play to earn the No. 2 seed, but the No. 3 Hilltoppers scored nine runs in the last three innings to mount the comeback.

The Lady Demons await the loser of No. 1 seed Oklahoma and No. 4 seed Evansville to play in the consolation game of the OU Courtyard Marriott Tournament onSunday at 10:30 a.m.

NSU 7, Evansville 3

Early offense supported sophomore pitcher Mikayla Brown’s solid outing.

Brown allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks.

After Friday’s five-inning shutout, Brown has allowed three runs in 12 innings with 17 strikeouts, lowering her season ERA to 3.48.

NSU scored all seven of its runs in the first two innings.

Senior Kellye Kincannon doubled in Sidney Salmans for a 1-0 edge in the first inning. Kincannon tied former teammate Cassandra Barefield with 161 career RBIs as NSU’s all-time leaders one game after surpassing Barefield for NSU’s career total bases mark.

The Lady Demons plated six runs in the second inning, all unearned thanks to two Evansville (4-8) errors.

With two runners in scoring position after a Kaitlyn St. Clair walk and an error, Sidney Salmans recorded an RBI for a 2-0 lead, scoring St. Clair (making sixth start of season at catcher).

Toni Hebert scored on Evansville’s second error before Julie Rawls (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) knocked in Salmans and Elise Vincent for a 5-0 lead.

Rawls, a freshman from Hallsville, Texas, contributed her first mult-hit and multi-RBI game of her career.

“It felt pretty great to get out there because I’ve been working really hard in practice, and my teammates have been helping me a lot,” Rawls said. “It felt good for everything to come together and for it to work out.

“We have to buy in to the process like the coaches have been talking about, and I bought in, saw the ball waist down and swung.”

Senior Brittney Jones smacked her team-leading fifth home run of the season, and the two-run shot vaulted NSU to a 7-0 advantage.

Evansville starter Ashleigh Downing (0-1) lasted just two innings, but reliever Samantha Fleming tossed four scoreless innings with one hit.

The Purple Aces tried to mount a comeback as pinch hitter Hayli Scott drove in two fourth-inning runs to cut NSU’s edge to 7-2, but Brown stranded five runners in scoring position in the last four innings.

Evansville loaded the bases in the sixth inning with the help of one of two NSU errors, but Brown recorded the final out to end the threat.

Brown gave up a solo home run to pinch hitter Brittany Hay in the seventh inning for the 7-3 final.

Western Kentucky 10, NSU 8

Junior pitcher Micaela Bouvier cruised through the first four innings as the NSU scored in each of the first four innings for an 8-1 lead.

Bouvier allowed a solo home run to Brittany Mauch in the first inning, but the Hilltoppers didn’t record another hit until the fifth inning.

Bouvier, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery allowed four runs in the fifth inning and put the first three batters of the sixth inning on before sophomore reliever Katelyn Boles (3-5) entered.

Boles, who stepped in the circle with an 8-5 lead and the bases loaded with no outs, limited the damage as WKU scored two runs to cut the NSU lead to 8-7 in the sixth inning.

But the Hilltoppers hit two more home runs in the seventh inning (Brittany Vaughn and Haylee Towers) to account for three runs and a 10-8 advantage.

Boles (3-5) earned the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in two innings. Bouvier allowed seven runs on six hits with five strikeouts and four walks.

NSU took advantage of three WKU errors two of which contributed to the Lady Demons’ first run before Brittney Jones (1-1, two walks) sacrifice flied in Julie Rawls (three runs scored) for a 2-0 lead.

Sidney Salmans plated two second-inning runs with a single before Kaylee Isenburg doubled in two more runs for a 6-1 edge. Emma Hawthorne (2-for-3) added a sacrifice fly run to give NSU a 7-1 advantage in the third inning.

Salmans’ nine RBIs this season matches her 2016 total.

Micayla Sorosiak added an RBI single to score an unearned run for a 8-1 lead.

NSU’s blown seven-run lead is the second time in as many weeks where the Lady Demons have lost a lead of that size.

UT Martin erased an eight-run lead in a 9-8 win this past Sunday.

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