By Bud Denega, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Northwestern State softball team’s Friday started quietly with a bunt. It ended rather loudly with an offensive explosion.
The Lady Demons claimed a doubleheader sweep at Incarnate Word on Friday at H-E-B Field. They took the opener 5-2 and eased to a 17-0 victory in the nightcap.
The wins improve NSU to 11-7 overall and 5-0 in Southland Conference play. The losses drop the Cardinals to 2-13 overall and 0-5 in league action.
As alluded to, senior outfielder Elise Vincent began the day with a bunt. She put herself on first, was moved around by teammates, and made it around to score on a single by freshman infielder Kat Marshall.
The day ended with a game featuring three home runs, one of which was a grand slam by junior pitcher E.C. Delafield.
“We had a lot of big hits in that first game,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “We are able to get some line drives. In that second game, we got some people on base, and that led to us being able to get some pitches over the plate and we got to take advantage to hit some out.”
Northwestern State’s 5-0 start in conference play is its best such start since 2015. The Lady Demons will look for the series sweep Saturday at 12 p.m.
NSU 5, UIW 2
The first game took a few more entities being sharp for NSU to claim a victory. The Lady Demons received a quality start from junior Jensen Howell, who was relieved by sophomore Bronte Rhoden.
Howell went three innings, yielding two runs on four hits with six strikeouts. Rhoden tossed a scoreless four innings of relief to pick up the win that moved her to 3-2 on the season. She finished surrendering just three hits and boasted eight strikeouts.
Freshman infielder Keely DuBois made it 2-0 Lady Demons with an RBI foul out in the top of the fourth. The Cardinals answered this punch with a two-run fourth to tie the game at 2-2.
NSU found a way to manufacture a couple runs in the sixth. Senior outfielder Kaitlyn St. Clair had an RBI groundout and sophomore catcher Alexis Perry was credited with an RBI after reaching on an infield error.
Marshall bookended the game with another run batted in with a single to left.
“Jensen didn’t have her best stuff, but she was able to get some big strikeouts when we needed them,” Pickett said. “Bronte was able to slam the door shut for us and we were able to get some timely hits and gets those runs when we needed to pull that first one out.”
NSU 17, UIW 0
While the Lady Demons received more stellar pitching in Game 2, it’s not like it was needed. Delafield received the nod to start and went 3.2 innings, allowing four this with four strikeouts to improve to 3-1 on the season. Freshman Kenzie Seelyclosed it out, not giving up a run in 1.1 innings pitched with one strikeout.
St. Clair jumpstarted the offense in the second with a solo home run, her third of the season. Freshman infielder Taylor Williams logged her first career home run in the third, which broke the game open at 4-0.
And it broke wide the heck open, thereafter. Delafield helped out her own cause — not that she needed to — with a grand slam in the fourth. Freshman pinch hitter Marissa Reed wasn’t far behind with three RBIs.
Vincent joined St. Clair and Williams in the two-RBI club. Perry, senior infielder Emma Hawthorne and freshman outfielder Laney Roos all knocked home one run.
“We needed bring a little more energy in that second game,” Pickett said. “They brought it, and were able to jump on them early and continued to attack and be aggressive.”