NATCHITOCHES – Strong pitching efforts allowed Northwestern State to hang around in Wednesday’s doubleheader against hot No. 15 Baylor, but the Bears pulled away late for two wins.
In the eighth inning of the opening game, Baylor’s Jessie Scroggins delivered a two-RBI double that proved enough for pitcher Gia Rodoni, who had 17 strikeouts in a 3-1 Lady Demons loss.
In NSU’s 5-0 loss in the nightcap, the Bears (20-4) led just 1-0 entering the seventh inning of the second game before two home runs highlighted a four-run inning.
“We had pretty good pitching performances from (Katelyn Boles, Micaela Bouvier and Mikayla Brown),” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We’re happy with the pitching and the way we threw, but our offense didn’t do what we had been doing.
“We didn’t adjust offensively, and it was a letdown by how we approached our at-bats. We swung at a lot of bad pitches, tried to do too much and got sped up and gave away outs. Their pitchers threw great games, but we’ve got to slow the game down and adjust. We still were in the ball games and had chances to win, and we’ve got to get better.”
The Lady Demons (9-13-1) begin conference play Friday when they head to Lamar (7-13) for a 5 p.m. contest followed by a Saturday doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.
Baylor 3, NSU 1 (8)
Senior Brittney Jones put NSU on the board first when she belted a solo home run in the fourth inning for a 1-0 lead in front a robust crowd of 817. Despite an hour weather delay, about half stayed to watch the doubleheader that lasted more than five-and-a-half hours.
Jones’ sixth home run of the season gave NSU its first lead over a ranked team in 2017. The Lady Demons have played three games against ranked teams, including tying then-No. 1 Florida in the fifth inning (9-3 loss) and trailing No. 9 Oklahoma 1-0 into the sixth inning of a 3-0 loss.
Jones tied Erin Mancuso for third all-time on NSU’s home run list with 38.
Sophomore pitcher Katelyn Boles battled Baylor all night as she held the Bears to one run through six innings.
Boles (3-6) stranded 11 runners, including leaving the bases full of Bears in the first inning after recording the first two outs without incident.
The Pollok, Texas, native finished with three earned runs on nine hits and four walks and two hit-by-pitches.
Baylor threatened in the fourth inning when Lindsey Cargill (2-for-3) and Maddison Kettler (2-for-3) led off with singles and stolen bases to get into scoring position with no outs.
But Boles recorded two of her career-high seven strikeouts and forced a Caitlin Charlton fly out to end the inning.
Baylor tied the game 1-1 in the sixth inning on a Shelby McGlaun ground out that scored Cargill.
Cargill and Kettler singled to start the inning and moved into scoring position with no outs. NSU stranded a runner at third base by logging two outs to keep the score knotted.
The Bears put Scroggins in position to drive in the eighth-inning runs when Kettler walked and stole second, one of three Baylor steals.
The Lady Demons didn’t have an answer for Rodoni, who struck out a career-high 17 and held NSU to two hits. Besides Jones’ home run, freshman Julie Rawls recorded an infield single.
Boles has been tapped to start in three of NSU’s five games against ranked teams. She worked around nine walks and stranded 16 Sooners as she allowed three runs (one earned). Against Florida, she held the No. 1 Gators to three runs through five innings before she put three runners on to start a six-run Florida inning.
Baylor 5, NSU 0
Sophomore pitcher Mikayla Brown (4-5) allowed just one run in her first five relief innings, but Baylor widened the gap with a four-run seventh inning.
Shelby Friudenberg and Maddison Kettler each hit two-run home runs as Baylor took advantage of four walks and three hit-by-pitches to pair with their 10 hits.
Baylor’s Kyla Walker drove in a fourth-inning run with a sacrifice fly, but NSU stranded 10 Bears including two outs at home plate.
Starting pitcher Micaela Bouvier caught a runner stealing home in the first inning, and Julie Rawls threw out a runner in the sixth inning.
Bouvier left the bases loaded in her only inning.
But NSU had their own struggles with leaving runners on the base paths.
Down 1-0 in the fifth inning, NSU loaded the bases with one out but didn’t get the ball out of the infield in the next two at-bats. Senior Jordan Rains led off with a double before a Hailee Rhodes (2-for-3) bunt single and Elise Vincent (2-for-4) single loaded the bases.
NSU recorded six hits and left eight runners on base.
Baylor pitcher Shleby McGlaun allowed five hits in six scoreless innings before Kelsee Selman handled a scoreless seventh inning.
The Bears are coming off a weekend in which they beat four ranked teams – Michigan, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington.