The Lady Demons improved to 28-20 with the win as the Bears dropped to 25-33 on the season.
“Cali Burke came up big twice today, like she usually does in tough situations like this,” said sixth-year head coach Donald Pickett. “We struggled to send runners over the plate early in the game, but got the ball rolling when Brianna hit that home run in the fourth inning.”
Tied 3-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth, Shenequia Abby and Tara McKenney sent back-to-back singles to left field to draw Burke in the lineup.
The Mesquite, Texas, native sent a hard shot to the right center field fence, and gave both runners the chance to scoot home, taking a 5-3 lead.
The Bears got off to an early start in the first inning as they took a 1-0 lead off a two-out double from Hayley Parker with a runner on second.
Brianna Rodriguez put the Lady Demons on the board and tied the game at one when she cranked out her fifth homer of the season in the fourth.
Jones followed with a walk, and moved to second when pitcher Kylee Studioso balked.
Cheyenne DelaGarza was hit by a pitch, and went to second off a bunt from Abby.
Burke came later in the lineup and battled at the plate, going deep in the count, and eventually drew a walk as well for NSU to take a 2-1 lead.
Cassandra Barefield extended the lead by one when she led off the fifth with a powerful homer beyond the center field fence.
The homer was her 14th of the season, and 36th of her career, bringing her within two home runs of tying the NSU career record (38) that is currently held by Erin Mancuso from 2002.
UCA tied the game at three when it loaded up the bases in the sixth, forcing the Lady Demons to make a pitching change, bringing in Baylee Gray for starter Kaylee Guidry.
UCA’s Taylor Dear dished out a chopper over the head of Rodriguez at first to drive in a pair of runs.
Gray improved to 7-5 with the win in the circle, giving up just one hit in 1.2 innings.
Guidry allowed four hits and three runs, two of them earned, and struck out four in 5.1 innings of work.
Burke led from the plate with a 2-for-3 performance and three RBI, followed by McKenney with a 2-for-3 outing and one run scored.Abby dished out a one-for-two effort and also scored one run.
Northwestern State faced top-seeded McNeese State Friday and will continue its pursuit for the tournament title today.
NSU won last season’s conference championship in Natchitoches.