Softball — Strong starts, big innings lift Northwestern State to two wins

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Samantha Guile tossed her first shutout of the season Sunday in an 8-0 win against Mississippi Valley State. CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

Northwestern State’s pitching delivered another strong day of performances Sunday, and the Lady Demons bats revved up in a pair of large wins to cap the Mardi Gras Mambo tournament.

Senior pitcher Samantha Guile tossed her first shutout of the season in an 8-0 win against Mississippi Valley State.

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In the early game, NSU exploded for seven seventh-inning runs as the Lady Demons pulled away from Jacksonville State, 9-1.

The Lady Demons (8-5) will prepare for a seven-game week with a doubleheader at Jackson State on Wednesday and five games at the Memphis Blues City Classic this weekend.

“We played a lot better today, our whole approach was better,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett, whose Lady Demons finished a 4-1 weekend. “The girls showed up with the right approach, and we attacked the day and competed well.

“Things tend to work out for you when that happens.”

 

NSU 8, MVSU 0 (6)

Guile ducked and dodged MVSU runners in her outing, stranding seven on the base paths en route to her second win of the season.

The senior scattered seven hits and struck out four in six innings, also her first complete game this season.

“We had two great outings from Guile and (Jensen Howell) today, and they both looked about as sharp as they have been all season,” Pickett said. “We needed these two quality starts.

“Guile attacked the zone and looked sharp the whole game. It’s really good to know that we’re in every game because of the quality starts we’ve been getting.”

The Lady Demons scored in each of the first three innings to build a 5-0 lead.

Catcher Alexis Perry singled in the first-inning run before outfielder Hayley Barbazon tacked on to her team-high 14 RBIs with an RBI single in the second inning. Barbazon (2-for-3) and new left fielder Bronte Rhoden (2-for-3, two runs scored and one RBI) recorded multiple hits.

The Lady Demons hung a three-spot with a Kat Marshall RBI and an Emma Hawthorne two-RBI triple.

The middle of the lineup produced NSU’s three-run sixth inning to force the run-rule win.

Backup catcher Codi Vernace supplied an RBI single followed by RBI singles from Marshall and Rhoden.

“Kat Marshall had some big hits for us, and we were looking for her to swing at pitches in the zone,” Pickett said of Marshall, who had seven RBIs this weekend. “She had good approaches, swung at pitches down in the zone and added a lot of power in the lineup. She’s a big RBI-producer, and she’s playing with more confidence.”

 

NSU 9, JSU 1

Northwestern State was attempting to add to its 2-1 lead in its final at-bat, and the inning appeared to be like any other with JSU recording two outs and working around an error.

But the Gamecocks made another error, one of three in the inning, that opened the floodgates to NSU’s seven-run inning.

Two runs scored on that second error of the inning before NSU strung together RBI single by Jensen Howell (2-for-4), Hayley Barbazon (3-for-4) and Elise Vincent (2-for-4, 2 RBIs).

A run scored on the inning’s third error before E.C. Delafield (2-for-5) capped the scoring with an RBI single.

“After Saturday’s game, hopefully we’ve learned and understand the right way to approach games,” Pickett said. “I’m proud of the way the girls responded, and I think we understand that we can’t take things for granted and that we have to come out and attack.

“We have to bring that approach to everything that we do and be consistent in that approach. It was there today, and we have to build off that and get stronger in that.”

The late offensive surge supported another stellar outing from junior transfer Howell (4-2). Howell allowed just one run on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

“Jensen had another very good outing, and she continues to give us quality starts,” Pickett said. “She’s competed very well and has made a great transition to this staff.”

NSU flooded the base paths throughout the game before the huge seventh inning.

The Lady Demons collected 10 hits and five walks along with JSU’s three errors.

Eight out of nine runs were scored with two outs.

NSU scored runs in the third and fourth innings via RBI singles from E.C. Delafield and Elise Vincent.