Louisiana College Lady Wildcats sweep Hardin-Simmons in softball
For the fourth time in the last four weekends, the Louisiana College Lady Wildcats softball team completed a three-game American Southwest Conference series sweep.
Saturday, the Wildcats finished their series against Hardin-Simmons University with a 2-1 win for their 13th straight victory, which tied the longest winning streak since the 2012 season.
The first four innings of Saturday’s series finale were riddled with missed chances for both Louisiana College and Hardin-Simmons. Neither team got the key hit that would have given them the lead.
In the top of the second, Louisiana College got back-to-back two-out singles to put runners at first and second, but a ground ball to shortstop ended the inning and the Wildcats’ best chance to score early.
Both teams had at least one hit in three of their four trips to the plate through the first four innings.
Louisiana College was held hitless in the top of the first, and Hardin-Simmons, in the bottom of the third.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Wildcats broke through, thanks largely to a leadoff double from Shea Smith.
The Wildcats’ aggressive base running earned them the game’s first run, when Smith forced the issue on a ground ball by Morgan Dennis and scored on an error by the Cowgirls’ catcher.
With Dennis at second base, the next two batters flew out and struck out, but Sami Walters poked a hit into left field to bring in pinch runner Alyssa Ross from second for a 2-0 Louisiana College lead.
Hardin-Simmons got hits in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings, but each time, the Wildcat defense ended the inning on a fly ball to right and a ground ball double play in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, still trailing 2-0, Hardin-Simmons got its first big hit, a leadoff double to left field.
Back-to-back ground outs put Louisiana College one out away from shutting out Hardin-Simmons in all three games.
However, Hardin-Simmons got the hit it needed to prevent the shutout on a base hit to right, which was followed by a hit to center, putting the tying run at second base.
Savannah Settle got the final out on her seventh strikeout, and give Louisiana College.
Settle (8-2) pitched a complete game and surrendered one run on eight hits with seven strikeouts. She has won five straight starts.
Leadoff batter and Berwick High alum Shelby Bergeron (2-for-4) and Smith (2-for-3) were the only Wildcats with multiple hits. Walters and Dennis had RBIs.
Friday, Louisiana College defeated Hardin Simmons in a doubleheader. The Wildcats won game 1, 3-0, and game 2, 5-0.
In game one, the Wildcats got a complete-game shutout from Savannah Settle, and a combined shutout from Darian Thacker and Chelsea Lewis in game two.
The first three innings were dominated by the starting pitchers, Settle for Louisiana College and Lexie Allen for Hardin-Simmons.
The Wildcats led off the second inning with the first hit for either team, a single from Taylor Hammock, but Hammock was thrown out at the plate on an attempted double steal with Smith trying to take second after a walk.
Louisiana College got runners to second and third in the top of the third inning but could not come up with the hit to bring in the game’s first run, and the inning ended on a tapper back to the pitcher.
The Cowgirls threatened to score the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning when back-to-back one-out singles put runners at first and second.
The threat ended, however, on a ground ball to Mattie Stine at first base for the easy put out.
The Wildcats broke through in the top of the fourth when Hammock reached after being hit by a pitch and advanced to third after a bunt and ground out.
Smith put Louisiana College ahead, 1-0, with an infield single that scored Hammock from third.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the third inning from Settle, Louisiana College added to its lead in the fifth on an RBI single from Hammock, which plated Walters.
The Cowgirls last major threat came in the bottom of the fifth when they got runners to second and third with two outs, but Settle struck out the batter on four pitches to end the inning and all but seal the win for the Wildcats.
Louisiana College added a run in the seventh when Bergeron scrambled home on a passed ball with two outs.
Settle tossed a complete game and surrendered four hits in seven innings. She walked one and struck out three.
Bergeron and Hammock both went 2-for-2 with three walks between them and a run scored each. Louisiana College drew six walks and collected seven hits.
The day’s second game began just as the first did with two scoreless innings and no real threats to score.
Things changed in the third inning when Louisiana College loaded the bases on a two-out walk to Stine.
Hammock and Jordan Mason delivered back-to-back base hits to score three runs for a 3-0 Wildcat lead.
The next nine batters of the game were retired in order, from the top of the third through the bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth inning, the Wildcats scored another run on a sacrifice fly by Hammock that scored Walters, and Mason followed with her second RBI single of the game to give Louisiana College a 5-0 advantage midway through the fifth inning.
Hardin-Simmons looked as if it was going to pick up its first run of the day and perhaps even try and take the lead when it started the bottom of the fifth with three straight base hits to load the bases with no-outs.
Louisiana College starting pitcher Darian Thacker induced a ground ball to third, creating a force out at the plate, then ended the inning on a line drive to second for the second out. Hammock caught the runner at first too far off the bag for the final out.
The Cowgirls got two hits in the sixth inning and had runners at first and third with no-out, but once again, the threat was neutralized by great defensive play from the Wildcats.
The runner at third was thrown out at the plate in a double-steal attempt, and back-to-back ground outs ended the inning.
Thacker and Lewis combined for a complete-game shutout. Thacker earned her fifth win after allowing five hits, while inducing 11 ground ball outs.
Lewis surrendered two hits in two innings, with one walk and one strikeout.
Stine went 3-for-3 offensively with a run scored, and Hammock added a 1-for-2 game with two RBIs. Mason had two hits also and drove in three in consecutive at-bats.
Louisiana College returns to Wildcat Park this weekend for a non-conference set with Belhaven University. The series is scheduled for a single game Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and will end with a doubleheader Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. All games will be streamed live on the Louisiana College Athletics Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LCAthletics.