NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State coach Donald Pickett knew runs were at a premium Friday against one of the Southland Conference’s best in Abilene Christian.
One bad inning made the difference in a 4-1 loss as ACU struck for three runs in the fifth inning.
ACU’s Braegan Hamilton singled in a run before slugger Peyton Hedrick hit a two-run home off reliever Mikayla Brown. Hedrick leads the league with nine home runs this season.
Brown (5-8), who relieved starter Katelyn Boles in the fifth inning, took the loss with three runs on four hits in one inning.
“That one bad inning was the difference in the game,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We can’t afford to continue losing focus like that.
“Boles gave us a chance to win in the circle, but we didn’t get it done. We’ve got to learn to play seven innings consistently.”
NSU (10-17-1, 0-4 Southland Conference) will attempt to win its first SLC game Saturday in a noon doubleheader against ACU (14-12, 4-0 SLC).
Boles pitched four solid innings including three scoreless frames to start the game.
With runners on second and third base with one out, Casey-May Huff (2-for-3) singled in a fourth-inning run to tie the game at 1-1.
Boles escaped further trouble with one of her six strikeouts and a pop up. The sophomore finished her four-inning outing with one run on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
NSU grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Hailee Rhodes scored on a throwing error by ACU catcher Blair Clayton.
Rhodes walked to begin the inning, moved to second base on a Micayla Sorosiak single bunt and to third base on a Jordan Rains fly out.
But ACU starter Sidney Holman (9-3) recorded two outs to strand one of five Lady Demon runners.
Holman, whose fastball reached the high 60s, allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks in five innings. Reliever Hannah Null pitched two scoreless innings.
NSU senior Kellye Kincannon produced two four NSU’s four hits, including a double that hit off the top of the wall.
Freshman reliever Hayley Barbazon threw two scoreless innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
ACU stranded nine runners, but the Wildcats’ nine hits and four stolen bases helped keep runners in scoring position.