By Bud Denega, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
MOBILE, Ala. — The Northwestern State softball team finally received its big hit Sunday during the final day of the South Alabama Invitational. Junior infielder CaylaJones hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to propel the Lady Demons past SIU-Edwardsville 6-5.
“Cayla really stepped up with that big hit,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “I’m just real proud of the whole team. That (home run) should take some pressure off her, and take some pressure off the team.”
Saturday at the tournament for NSU was filled with runners on base but lacking the big hit to bring those runners home. That couldn’t be more the opposite of what Jones was able to accomplish, as her homer to right center occurred on a 3-2 pitch with two outs.
“To be down three, we could have quit,” Pickett said. “They kept fighting and kept competing and gave themselves a chance to win, and it worked out for us. I’m just really proud of the team.”
NSU couldn’t muster up the same offensive fireworks in its final game of the tournament. The Lady Demons dropped a 6-1 decision to host South Alabama.
The results push NSU’s record to 5-2 on the season, as it finished tournament play at 3-2. But more than the results was the fact that the Lady Demons played all five games and began to build some confidence on the diamond.
“We saw a lot of good things,” Pickett said. “We got some things we need to work on. But to be able to get five games in this weekend, from that aspect of it, it’s great.”
Northwestern State returns home Tuesday for a game against ULM. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. at the Lady Demon Diamond.
NSU 6, SIU-Edwardsville 5 (8 Innings)
Northwestern State needed Jones’ slam because the Cougars put three on the board in the top of the eighth. They recorded their crooked number against NSU senior pitcher Samantha Guile, on a Becca Duran three-run shot with two on and two out.
Guile came on in relief of sophomore Bronte Rhoden who twirled the first 7.1 innings. She scattered 10 hits, giving up four runs with seven strikeouts.
Freshman outfielder Laney Roos provided the first amount of the run support with an RBI triple in the fourth inning. Junior Jensen Howell tacked on the second run, knotting the game at 2-2, with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Senior outfielder Elise Vincent enjoyed a multi-hit game for the second consecutive day. For her efforts, she was named to the All-Tournament team.
South Alabama 6, NSU 1
Vincent plated the only run against the Jaguars. She hit an RBI groundout in the top of the third inning that staked NSU to the early 1-0 lead.
But that wouldn’t hold. South Alabama got after freshman Kenzie Seely and Howell, drawing even in the third before putting up a four-spot in the fourth.
Seely received the nod to start and lasted 1.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit with a pair of strikeouts. Howell tossed 2/3 of an inning and surrendered four earned runs on two hits with one strikeout.
Junior E.C Delafield continued with her dominance in the circle. After tossing five innings of shutout softball during the first day of the tournament, she turned around and pitched three scoreless innings with one strikeout Sunday.