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Lady Demons look to repeat as Southland tournament champions
May 08, 2014 | 102 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Northwestern State junior catcher Cassandra Barefield is one of the Lady Demons’ leaders on offense as they seek their second consecutive Southland Conference tournament title. Barefield is batting .313 with 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Photo by Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services.
Northwestern State junior catcher Cassandra Barefield is one of the Lady Demons’ leaders on offense as they seek their second consecutive Southland Conference tournament title. Barefield is batting .313 with 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Photo by Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services.
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Heading to the Southland Conference Tournament for the 16th time in program history, the Northwestern State softball team seeks a fifth tournament championship after claiming the 2013 crown, and will begin double-elimination style play tonight at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of No.3 Sam Houston State and No. 6 Central Arkansas at North Oak Park on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana.

All tournament games will be broadcast on 100.7 KZBL in Natchitoches and on nsudemons.com. Live video of all games, with the exception of Saturday’s championship, will be available for free on the Southland Digital Network. The title game(s) will be featured on ESPN3.

The Lady Demons (27-20 overall) secured the second seed for the second season in a row after winning their last four Southland Conference series, including a sweep of the Lady Lions in the regular-season finale. NSU looks to become the first team to repeat as tournament champions since Texas State (2011 and 2012). The Lady Demons hold a tournament winning percentage of .635 (40-23), which is the best percentage among current league members.

Having met early in the league season, SHSU took two games from NSU in Natchitoches, and left town unscathed as the series finale was cancelled due to inclement weather. The Lady Demons were held to just 17 hits and eight runs throughout both games for a .262 average from the plate.

Against the Bears, NSU dished out a weekend series-high seven homers from seven different hitters to take a 2-1 series in Conway, Ark.

The Bearkats (26-25) dropped their last two league series--both of them 1-2--to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Stephen F. Austin, for a 4-6 record through their last 10 games. UCA claimed series wins in its last two weekends of the regular-season, posting 2-1 marks over Incarnate Word and Nicholls.

Northwestern State placed seven members on the All-Southland Conference teams, announced Tuesday, including first team selection Brittany Virgoe, and had two members earn honorable mention status. The Lady Demons have cranked out 60 homers this season to show their strength at the plate. Their 1.28 home runs per game average currently ranks 10th in the nation, and second in the State behind No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette.

Virgoe is third on the team from the plate, hitting .346 with six homers and a team-high tie of 10 doubles with All-SLC honorable mention member Cheyenne DelaGarza.

Repeat second team selection Tara McKenney boasts a .371 average and a team-high 59 hits to lead from the plate. The Red Oak, Texas, native broke into the NSU career record book in hits earlier this season, and now ranks third all-time.

Freshman standout Kellye Kincannon (All-SLC honorable mention) sits just behind McKenney at .369 and holds a team-leading 38 RBI off 12 homers, five doubles and a triple. Her home runs per game average (.32), is currently ranked 23rd in the nation and second in the state behind ULL’s Lexie Elkins in ninth. The Clute, Texas, native swept Southland and LSWA weekly hitting honors for the past two weeks after dishing out four homers, two doubles and 15 RBI in the span of seven games.

Kincannon leads the Southland in slugging percentage (.757), and is followed by Cassandra Barefield (.664) and Brittney Jones (.648) in sixth, respectively.

From the circle, senior Kaylee Guidry (10-3) registers a 2.94 ERA after giving up 76 hits and 38 runs, 35 of them earned, in 83.1 innings. Guidry earned LSWA Pitcher of the Week May 5 after throwing a complete game and claiming her first save of the season against Southeastern. She gave up just one earned run and five hits in nine complete innings.

SHSU placed six members on the All-Conference teams, including second team selection Tiffany Castillo who sits tied with Sarah Allison to lead the team with nine homers apiece. Cecilia Castillo, sister to Tiffany, steers the offense with a .346 average, and is tied with Tayler Gray (.321) for a team-high 53 hits each. Third team selection Shelby Lancaster (10-9) boasts a 2.98 ERA from the circle, while giving up 132 hits and 77 runs, 57 of them earned, in 134 complete innings. Haley Baros (10-11) ranks second with a 3.16 ERA, allowing 150 hits and 72 runs, 53 of them earned, in 117.1 innings.

For the Bears, Brianna Whisenhunt (All-Southland third team) records a .363 average to lead from the plate, putting the ball into play 58 times this season, including 10 doubles and four triples, to rack up 21 RBI. Southland hits leader, Sam Forrest, is the backbone of the offense with 65 hits and 42 RBI off 18 doubles and eight homers. Southland Newcomer of the Year, Kylee Studioso (16-11) leads the bullpen with a 3.25 ERA, having given up 154 hits and 102 runs, 75 of them earned, in 161.2 innings. Clara Clampitt (3-12) has seen 88.1 innings on the rubber, and has allowed 101 hits and 73 runs, 58 of them earned, for a 4.60 ERA.

A win tonight would keep the Lady Demons in the winner’s bracket and the opportunity to face the winner of No. 1 McNeese vs. the winner of No. 4 and No. 5 Houston Baptist, with a game time slated for 4 p.m. Friday. A loss drops NSU into the lower bracket and an 11:00 a.m. game time, also Friday.
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