BEAUMONT, Texas – Sable Hankins had three hits, including a two-run double to highlight a five-run outburst in the sixth inning, as the Lamar University Cardinals rallied for a 7-5 win over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on the first day of the Postseason National Invitationals Softball Championship Regionals at the LU Softball Complex on Tuesday.
The Cardinals (29-28) overcame a sloppy start that saw them make four errors in the first four innings to taste victory in their first-ever national postseason appearance.
“Obviously, we don’t want to make for errors, but when you make that many errors you have to find a way to overcome them. We did that tonight,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “I was happy with the adjustments we made at the plate. We got some big hits when we needed them.”
Louisiana-Monroe (30-29), which was the home team on the scoreboard, got off to an early 2-0 lead with unearned runs on the first and second innings off LU starter Ciara Luna. The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the top of the fourth on an RBI triple to center field by Kelly Meeuwsen, who later scored on a throwing error.
The Cardinals took control of the game in the sixth inning, scoring five runs on three hits and taking advantage of two errors by the Warhawks, who also committed four errors in the contest. In addition to Hankins’ two-run double, Meeuwsen had an RBI single to cap the inning.
The Warhawks added a single run in the sixth inning before scoring twice in the seventh inning. ULM greeted LU reliever Anissa Rodriguez with three straight hits before Luna came back in to seal the win. Luna (14-16) allowed eight hits and three runs, one earned, over seven innings. She did not walk a batter and struck out three. Melanie Coyne (17-14) started and took the loss for ULM, allowing seven hits and six runs, two earned, over 5 2/3 innings. Porter Paige allowed two hits and one unearned run in 1 1 /3 innings of relief for the Warhawks.
Hankins went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored for the Cardinals. Meeuwsen and Corina Thornton had two hits apiece for LU.
The Cardinals face Abilene Christian at 3 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s title round, set for noon. The loser of Wednesday’s LU-ACU game plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday for the right to advance to the title round.
ULM faces UT Arlington at noon Wednesday in an elimination game, with the winner advancing to the 7 p.m. game. UT Arlington dropped a 5-4 decision in nine innings to Abilene Christian in Tuesday’s first game.
“It’s great to see two Southland Schools get wins over teams from the Sun Belt Conference,” Bruder said. “We didn’t face Abilene Christian in the regular season this year, so this should be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”