HOUSTON – Ciara Luna tossed a three-hit shutout, while Sable Hankins drove in four runs as the Lamar University Cardinals defeated the host Houston Cougars 6-0 to earn a split of their non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday. Houston won the first game 11-2.
“We played much better in the second game,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “We played the way we are capable of. We got good pitching, timely hitting and we didn’t make costly errors.”
Game 1: Houston 11, Lamar 2
Brynn Baca drove in both of LU’s runs, but the Cardinals couldn’t overcome some base-running mistakes and five errors as the Cougars won the game in five innings.
Shelby Miller ended the game with a three-run blast to left-center off Erin Kyle, the third LU pitcher used. Miller had four RBIs in the game for Houston.
Brittany Rodriguez had two of LU’s five hits. Baca and Ashley McDowell had doubles for the Cardinals.
Trystan Melancon (8-6) got the win for Houston, pitching all five innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs. She walked four and struck out two.
Laura Napoli (8-8) started and took the loss for the Cardinals. Napoli allowed eight hits and eight runs, six earned, in 3 1/3 innings. Napoli walked three and struck out one. Anissa Rodriguez pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief, while Kyle, allowed one hit and three runs, all unearned, in 1/3 of an inning.
Game 2: Lamar 6, Houston 0
Luna (6-11) threw her first shutout of the season and fifth of her career as the Cardinals improved to 18-19 on the season. The senior right-hander walked one and struck out three.
“Ciara was tremendous,” Bruder said. “She had good control and got the big strikeout when she needed it.”
Hankins gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the first inning as her double to right-center scored McDowell and Baca. The Cardinals broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning. Baca’s RBI grounder scored Mackenzie Futrell before Hankins launched a rocket to straightaway center field for a two-run home run.
The Cardinals tacked on one more run in the seventh as Brittany Rodriguez tripled and scored on Baca’s sacrifice fly.
That was more than enough support for Luna, who needed just 80 pitches on the night for the win as the Cougars dropped to 17-17 on the season.
Presley Bell (2-4) started and took the loss for Houston, allowing six hits and five runs, all earned, over five innings. Savannah Heebner allowed two hits and one earned in two innings of relief for the Cougars.
“We have to build off this win,” Bruder said. “We have seven games at home coming up, including six conference games. These kids want to win. Hopefully, a good win like this gives us some confidence.”
The Cardinals open stretch of seven straight home games with a Southland Conference doubleheader vs. the Sam Houston State Bearkats at 4 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals and Bearkats play a single game at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The homestand continues when Central Arkansas comes to town for a single game at 5 p.m. April 14 and a doubleheader at 2 p.m. April 15. A non-conference game against the Texas State Bobcats at 3 p.m. April 18 wraps up the homestand.
“We’re definitely excited to have some home games coming up,” Bruder said. “We know those conference games are important. We’re going to use the doubleheader at Houston to help us get ready.”