MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Northwestern State split its first two games in Memphis on Friday, falling to Indiana 4-2 before doubling the host Tigers 6-3.
“We played better overall today for sure,” the head coach Donald Pickett said. “We took the staff games today with everyone pitching in, competing well and giving us a chance to win both games. We swung the bats better today as well, we had a chance to win the first game and we were able to get up early in the second, which helped us win this one.”
Indiana 4, NSU 2
Some early missed chances to put up runs came back to haunt the Demons late in the game.
Consecutive base hits from Taylor Williams and Lainey Roos put runners on and in scoring position after both are tagged out and advance on a fly ball to right. The lack of a key hit with two outs that has plagued the Demon offense of late kept them off the board again as a ground ball shortened the bottom of the inning.
Down 1-0 in the fourth after a two-out double by the Hoosiers in the second gave them the lead, the Demons were poised to at least tie the game after a one-out double by Kat Marshall.
Mackenzie Chaffin followed by a work in walk and again both runners advanced to second and third on a throwing error by the catcher. But once again, NSU was left without a ground ball to second, stranding two more runners in scoring position.
After battling traffic through the first three innings, where Indiana totaled seven hits against the starter Riley Denton but only scratched through the one run, the Hoosiers eventually made a bigger breakthrough.
Two back-to-back infield singles plated a pair to start the Indiana fourth, and two batters later a three-run homer to left made it a 4-0 game. Indiana had just one more hit the rest of the game, a leadoff double in the fifth that did no damage as Denton and a reliever Maggie Darr shut out the Hoosiers over the final two-plus innings.
Williams had NSU’s first two-out hit of the game, a single in the middle of the fifth to bring it back Nani Winger who walked and stole second to start the inning for the first run of the day. The Demons had a pair in the sixth, looking for some late-inning magic, but the only thing they could come up with was a leadoff home run by Ashlyn Walker in the seventh, her first as a demon.
NSU 6, Memphis 3
After allowing a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the first, the Demons took no time to form a response against the home Tigers.
It took just two hits and eight innings for NSU to tie the game in the top of the second. Marshall’s second double of the day immediately put her in scoring position. Chaffin traded pitches with a double to left, tying the score at one run apiece.
Walk to Keeley DuBois and internal field single of Tristin Court loaded the bases, setting the table for Walker’s second RBI of the day on a fielder’s choice to right to give the Demons a 2-1 lead. Memphis answered with a run in the bottom of the inning on another bases hit up the middle to tie the game at two, but just like they had done before, the Demons answered again.
Hits by Williams and Marshall put two in scoring position with one out for the Demons in the third. Chaffin managed his second hit in as many innings and his third of the day to bring in both runs and put the Demons back on top.
She came in to score on the next play thanks to an error at short, giving NSU a 5-2 advantage.
“To be able to get a couple of runs there instead of just one was huge for us at that point in the game,” Pickett said. “That gave us some breathing room and Bronte (Roden) came in and shut the door for the next three innings. It was a big game-changer with Mack’s goal followed by what Bronte did.”
Roden entered the game after the three-run inning in place of the starter Kenzie Seeley and gave the Demons exactly what they needed, three shutout innings. She retired the next nine batters in a row with five strikeouts, including a strikeout in the side in the fourth.
The Demons added another run to their total in the sixth on a two-out single up the middle by Walker, her second hit and third RBI out of the ninth spot in the lineup of the day.
“Ashlyn had a big day for us today in the bottom of the lineup,” Pickett said. “She did a great job of turning the lineup over and things flowed a little bit better with her getting on base and creating some RBI opportunities. I think that was big for us today and hopefully we can build on it for tomorrow.”
The Tigers made one final late-game push in the bottom of the sixth, finally getting to Roden with a double and two straight with two outs to drive in a run and load the bases after a walk.
As she did in the first game, Darr was called upon to prevent the opponent from getting any more, and she did just that.
A crucial strikeout ended the inning, leaving the bases loaded, and Darr struck out two of the three batters he faced in the seventh to pick up the second save of his career and give Roden his second win of the season.
NSU continues play in Memphis at 12:00pm on Saturday against Indiana before closing out the weekend with the Tigers again at 5:00pm.