Northwestern State can’t dig out of early hole in loss to Louisiana Tech

Sophomore shortstop Nikki Skerlong led NSU with two hits in an 11-3 loss to Louisiana Tech in five innings. CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
NSU 1 Hayley Barbazon

Northwestern State’s Kaitlyn St. Clair and Riley Cantrell made fifth-inning noise with a pair of home runs, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a run-rule by Louisiana Tech in an 11-3 Lady Demons’ loss Wednesday.

The Lady Techsters (21-7), who are receiving votes in the latest Top 25 poll, piled up eight runs in the first inning and held off NSU (13-14) late.

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The run-rule loss is NSU’s first of the season, and coach Donald Pickett expressed his team has to have better starts.

“We didn’t come ready to play, and there’s no excuse in that,” Pickett said. “We gave them some opportunities and didn’t make some plays, and they took full advantage, and that’s what good teams do.

NSU 22 Codi Vernace

“You can’t dig out against a good team like that. Hopefully we’ll learn because we have a quick turnaround (to traveling to McNeese), and we have to be ready to play from the first pitch to the last.”

The Lady Demons (5-1 Southland Conference) head to McNeese (4-2 SLC) as NSU is tied for first place with Lamar in the league.

On Wednesday, Tech compiled five hits and used a two hit-by-pitches, two walks and an error to construct the eight-run inning, NSU’s largest allowed this season. Tech held just a 9-7 edge in hits despite the scoring margin.

NSU 7 Bronte Rhoden

Zoe Hicks started the scoring with an RBI single after a hit-by-pitch and an error.

After a passed ball scored the second run, Lindsay Edwards doubled in Hicks for a 3-0 edge.

Mary Terral’s RBI single put Tech up 4-0 and chased NSU starter Mikayla Brown (3-3).

NSU 15 EC Delafield

With the bases loaded, NSU recorded its second out, which could have ended the inning at 4-0 had the error not occurred.

But Tech’s Kimmie Atienza (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Jazlyn Crowder (2-for-3, 3 RBIs) each contributed two-RBI singles off reliever Bronte Rhoden to push the advantage to 8-0.

Brown was credited with six runs (three allowed) on three hits in just 1/3 of an inning.

Tech added three runs in the third inning, closing the book on Rhoden at five runs allowed (three earned) on six hits.

NSU 19 Riley Cantrell
Photos by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

NSU reliever E.C. Delafield pitched a scoreless 2 1/3 innings with no hits.

The Lady Demons missed a few early chances, including leaving the bases loaded in the first inning.

After St. Clair (1-for-1, two walks) walked, Alexis Perry reached on an error and Delafield was hit by a pitch.

But Tech starter Krystal De La Cruz got a ground out to end the threat, and NSU couldn’t mount an answer until the three-run fifth inning.

De La Cruz (6-1) worked four scoreless innings with four hits and two walks.

NSU 4 Maggie Black LATech 21 Morgan Turkoly

NSU shortstop Nikki Skerlong (2-for-2) recorded her second multi-hit game of her career and has five hits in her last four games.

St. Clair’s solo home run in the fifth inning was her first of the season and fourth of her career. After an Emma Hawthorne pinch-hit single, Cantrell followed with a monster two-run home run, her fourth of the season.

Reliever Hannah Koenig recorded the final out as NSU needed one more run to push the game into the sixth inning.

NSU 24 Nicole Skerlong LATech 17 Kimmie Atienza