BEAUMONT, Texas – Kelly Meeuwsen’s two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth inning drove in Ashley McDowell to give the Lamar University Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Northwestern State Lady Demons on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep on the opening weekend of Southland Conference softball play.
Meeuwsen ripped the first pitch she saw from Northwestern State reliever Mikayla Brown (4-7) into right field for the third game-winning hit of her career as the Cardinals (10-13 overall, 3-0 Southland) ran their winning streak to four games.
LU got the win despite leaving a school-record 15 runners on base (a total that included the three left on base after Meeuwsen’s game-winning hit). LU had just five hits on the afternoon, but reached 12 times by walk and three times after being hit by a pitch.
“It’s good that we’re getting plenty of runners, but we need to have more productive at-bats when we have runners,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “We have to learn from this, but it’s much nicer to learn and still win the game.”
The Cardinals got their second strong outing of the weekend from senior right-hander Ciara Luna (3-7), who allowed six hits and two runs, both earned. Luna did not walk a batter while striking out four. In her two starts this weekend, Luna went 2-0 with two complete games and a .140 ERA. She struck out 11 in 15 innings.
“Ciara had a tremendous weekend for us,” Bruder said. “That’s what you expect from your ace.”
Northwestern State (9-26-2, 0-4) took an early 1-0 lead Sunday, as Kellye Kincannon hit her fifth home run of the season, a solo shot in the top of the first.
LU took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Corina Thornton tied the game at 1 with a single before pinch-hitter Samantha Cetta drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Cardinals the lead.
The Lady Demons tied things up in the sixth inning on a two-out single by Hailee Rhodes. LU threatened in the bottom of the sixth, but left the bases loaded for the third time in the game.
Luna set down the side in order in both the seventh and eighth innings, setting the stage for Meeuwsen’s heroics.
“We got good pitching and played good defense,” Bruder said. “We didn’t hit as well as I’d like, but we managed to sweep a good team in our conference. I’ll take that.”
Northwestern State used three pitchers on Sunday. Starter Katelyn Boles allowed three hits and two runs over 3 1/3 innings. Boles walked six and did not have a strikeout. Micaela Bouvier allowed one hit and four walks while hitting two batters in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Brown, who started and took the loss in opening game of Friday’s doubleheader, suffered her second loss of the weekend, as she allowed one hit and one run in 1 2/3 innings of relief. She walked two and hit a batter.
LEFT STRANDED: LU’s 15 runners on base surpassed the previous school mark of 14 set in a 3-1 loss to Harvard on Feb. 28, 2014.
CUTTING IT CLOSE: After losing their first seven one-run games this season, the Cardinals have now won three straight one-run decisions.
WALKING IT OFF: Sunday’s victory was the 21st walk-off win in the modern era of LU softball, and the second this season. Meeuwsen and Ashley McDowell have each had a walk-off RBI three times in their career.
HOW SWEEP IT IS: Sunday’s win marked the first time the Cardinals swept Northwestern State in a three-game conference series since LU revived the softball program in 2013. LU is 11-19 vs. the Lady Demons dating back to 1984.
UP NEXT: The Cardinals host Houston Baptist in a three-game Southland Conference series starting with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Friday. The series wraps up with a single game at 3 p.m. Saturday. LU concludes its seven-game homestand by hosting UTSA in a non-conference game at 3 p.m. March 21.
TICKETS: For tickets for all LU home games, call 409-880-1715, or visit www.LamarCardinals.com/SoftballTickets. Tickets are also available at the LU ticket office, located in the Montagne Center, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Tickets will be available at the ticket window at the LU Softball Complex starting one hour prior to first pitch.