The third annual Lady Demon Classic will begin Saturday and will feature Northwestern State (4-6), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-6) and Houston Baptist (3-3). Saint Louis was part of the original tournament event but won’t be making the more than 600-mile trip because of impending weather.
NSU will play two games Saturday and two games Sunday. The Lady Demons start the Classic by facing UAPB at 3:30 p.m. followed by HBU on 6 p.m. UAPB and HBU end the day with an 8:30 p.m. contest.
NSU is scheduled to play the final two games Sunday — facing HBU at 12:30 p.m. and UAPB at 3 p.m. Sunday action starts at 10 a.m. with UAPB and HBU.
Each game will be available on live video (paid) and live stats at nsudemons.com.
“We’re always excited to play in front of our fans, and we have some of the best fans here in Natchitoches,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We have lots of relationships with lots of people who do a lot for us.
“It’s important for kids to play at home and not be on the road, but it’s also really important to us for our fans to see the team early in the season at home. We’ve got so many young kids, but we’re really talented and hungry, and I’m excited to see where this team goes.”
The Lady Demons swept Fairleigh Dickinson in their home openers with wins of 5-1 and 6-0.
Three freshmen smacked NSU’s first home runs of the season — a Maggie Black solo home run in the first game and second-game home runs by Alexis Perry and Riley Cantrell.
Cantrell (10 RBIs) and Perry (five RBIs) lead the team as freshmen have accounted for 17 of NSU’s 31 RBIs.
“I thought we did a better job of producing runs, especially after leaving runners stranded early,” Pickett said. “But nobody pressed, and they stayed in their approach, stayed behind some balls and got them out of here.
“We had success up and down the lineup with quality at-bats.”
While NSU fans might be used to seeing names like Cayla Jones (two RBIs) leading the RBI column, the veterans at the top of the lineup have been table setters.
The sophomore Jones (eight runs scored, .320 batting average, .528 on-base percentage) and juniors Hayley Barbazon (six runs, .368 on-base percentage) and Kaitlyn St. Clair (four runs scored, .459 on-base percentage) have put runners on base ahead of the middle of the order.
The trio has scored 20 of NSU’s 34 runs scored through the first 10 games.
NSU’s new arms have shouldered the bulk of the load early, but senior Mikayla Brown and sophomore E.C. Delafield are expected to increase their load this weekend.
Brown shut the door on Fairleigh Dickinson after junior Samantha Guile threw six scoreless innings before running into trouble in the seventh of a 5-1 win.
Guile (1-3, 2.73 ERA) picked up her first win of NSU career Wednesday and leads the team with 20 strikeouts and 25 2-3 innings pitched.
Freshman Bronte Rhoden (3-0, 2.07 ERA) earned her first win as a starter in the second game by tossing a two-hit shutout with one of those hits coming in the final frame.
NHDDC LADY DEMON CLASSIC SCHEDULE
3:30 p.m. NSU vs. UAPB
6 p.m. NSU vs. Houston Baptist
8:30 p.m. UAPB vs. Houston Baptist
10 a.m. UAPB vs. Houston Baptist
12:30 p.m. NSU vs. Houston Baptist
3 p.m. NSU vs. UAPB