After falling behind in both games Sunday, the Northwestern State softball team attempted to climb out of those holes with rallies on the final day of the Houston Invitational.
One rally did pull the Lady Demons back to even against Fordham in the early game, but the Rams scored in the seventh inning in a 4-3 NSU loss.
The other attempted comeback fell short as three seventh-inning NSU runs weren’t enough in a 9-6 defeat against Houston, who is receiving votes in the preseason top 25 poll.
“We faced both teams’ best pitchers today, and we were able to do some good things offensively,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We led Houston twice, and we battled hard in both games.
“We’re looking for consistency.”
The Lady Demons (2-2) open their home season this coming weekend by playing six games in the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission’s Lady Demon Classic.
Fordham 4, NSU 3
Northwestern State couldn’t overcome three costly errors in Sunday’s early game as Fordham scored four unearned runs.
The Rams (1-4) grabbed the lead for good with a seventh-inning unearned run in which Sarah Taffet delivered an RBI ground out to score Madie Aughinbaugh, who doubled and advanced on a throwing error.
Fordham pitcher Devon Miller (1-0) retired NSU in order in the seventh inning to pick up the win in which she allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts.
“We feel like we threw the game away with our errors,” Pickett said. “We were credited with three, but in the coaches’ minds, we really had five.
“We were able to put a three spot on a pretty good team, and if we play a clean game defensively, we think that performance will win us a lot of games.”
Junior E.C. Delafield injected life into the Lady Demons with a sixth-inning home run to tie the game at 3-3.
Delafield, who hit her second home run of the season, plated two runs after Jordan Dickerson reached on an error. Delafield also homered in the sixth inning Saturday in the 12-2 win over UMass Lowell.
NSU reliever Jensen Howell (0-1) took the loss with one unearned run on two hits in 2 2-3 innings. Howell struck out four after relieving starter Samantha Guile in the fifth inning.
Guile lasted 4 1-3 innings in her first start of the season, allowing three unearned runs on six hits and striking out two.
The Rams tacked on a pair of fifth-inning runs to take a 3-0 lead and chase Guile. Singles by Aughinbaugh (3-4) and Briana Pinto precipitated the change to Howell before an error on a double steal brought one run home.
A Taffet ground out RBI accounted for the second run before a Howell strikeout ended the threat.
NSU got a run back in the bottom of the fifth, but the Lady Demons had a shot at one of its huge innings that occurred Saturday.
Senior Hayley Barbazon delivered an RBI single after singles by Emma Hawthorne and Kaitlyn St. Clair to slice into Fordham’s lead 3-1.
But Miller slammed the door by recording the final two outs, stranding two Lady Demons in scoring position. NSU left three runners in scoring position and four overall.
Fordham scored an unearned run in the second inning to take a 1-0 edge.
Julia Martine reached on an error, stole second base and scored on an Anne Marie Prentiss two-out single.
For NSU, Kaitlyn St. Clair (2-3) and Elise Vincent (2-4) each recorded multiple hits. Each have two multiple hit games in their first three this season.
Houston 9, NSU 6
A late NSU rally put a little doubt in the outcome of Sunday’s finale, but ultimately, the Lady Demons weren’t able to overcome Houston’s six-run inning.
NSU’s three seventh-inning runs was highlighted by a Codi Vernace two-run home run as the Lady Demons pressured the Cougars (4-1) with one out. Vernace’s home run was her first at-bat of the season and the fourth of her career.
But reliever Megan Lee entered to record the final two outs and preserve the Houston win.
Cayla Jones (2-4) started the rally with a single followed by an Alexis Perry (2-4) RBI single with one out.
NSU struck early as the Lady Demons scored just two batters into the game.
Senior Elise Vincent scored on a double steal attempt with Jones. Vincent, who walked to lead off the inning, advanced to third on Jones’ single before Jones stole second base and Vincent took home for the 1-0 lead.
The early trouble chased Houston starter Rachel Hertenberger, who walked two batters and gave up a Jones’ single.
Houston responded with a two-run Aspen Howie (four RBIs) home run to grab a 2-1 edge in the second inning. Bethany Busch bunt singled ahead of Howie’s second home run of the season.
E.C. Delafield, who also was NSU’s starting pitcher, regained the 3-2 lead for NSU when she doubled in a pair of runs in the third inning off Houston reliever Logan Hulon.
Hulon (2-0), a freshman, no-hit Valpo in her collegiate debut.
NSU had its most success when Hulon walked or plunked hitters. Vincent walked and Cayla Jones was beaned to set up Delafield’s two-RBI double. Delafield combined for eight RBIs in four games this weekend, nearly halving her 17-RBI total as a sophomore.
But the Cougars piled up six runs in the third inning to take a commanding 8-3 lead with the help of three doubles and two home runs.
“We had one bad inning from our pitchers, and that was a big difference,” Pickett said. “Both Houston and Fordham made the NCAA Tournament last year, so we were facing good opponents.”
Charese Wyatt led off with a home run to the game at 3-3.
A Kelli Montgomery double and Bethany Busch walk set up a Becca Schulte RBI double to go up 4-3.
That spurred a pitching change to Bronte Rhoden, but Howie doubled in two runs to keep the Cougars’ momentum going for an 8-3 advantage.
Kati Ray Brown (three RBIs) tacked on a two-run home run to cap the big inning.
Delafield surrendered six runs on six hits in 2 2-3 innings before Rhoden allowed three more on five hits 2 1-3 innings. Junior Jensen Howell pitched a clean inning in relief.
NSU’s Kaitlyn St. Clair produced two hits in the finale as part of the Lady Demons’ nine in the loss, and her and Vincent had three multi-hit games in the weekend.